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True intellectuals know the power of the passive voice

Yair Lapid, Israel’s minister of finance, has spoken out against the perfidy of treacherous intellectuals who don’t accept the virtue of his country.

Too many American and European intellectuals have taken moral relativism to its absurd extreme, falling back upon the ‘validity of every narrative’ and repeating the mantra that ‘every story has two sides.’ They treat those who have a clear moral stance as primitive. For them, if you take a moral stand or choose a side in a conflict you must lack the necessary tolerance to "see the other side."

Brilliant: many people see your actions as excessive, violent, and oppressive, and so you respond by accusing them of failing to take a moral stand. The only moral failure I see is when people refuse to condemn the use of violence against a whole people.

It seems a distant memory but not long ago intellectuals did the exact opposite. They were the ones who helped us differentiate between good and evil, between right and wrong, between justice and injustice. They didn’t delve into the childhood of Senator McCarthy or ask whether the Germans felt a genuine sense of hardship. The debate wasn’t over feelings but the essence of truth.

Somehow, that’s a familiar refrain. My side is logical, your side is emotional. Quit looking at those dead children! There is a good reason we had to bomb them, and you shouldn’t get all weepy about a few small bits of meat.

The betrayal of the intellectuals was especially noticeable during the days of the operation in Gaza. Ostensibly, there should be no question as to who enlightened people should support; on one side of the conflict stands a western democracy, governed by the rule of law, which warns civilians before striking legitimate terrorist targets. On the other side stands an Islamist terrorist organization, homophobic and misogynistic, committed to killing Jews, which does all in its power to murder innocent civilians and hides behind its own women and children when carrying out its vicious attacks.

But those intellectuals see it differently. For them, the Palestinians are suffering more and so they must be right. Why? Because they have turned suffering into the only measure of justice.

Yes, Israel is on the side of the law…the laws they wrote, that lock Palestinians into a ghetto and refuses to let them out.

But I do have to admire the remarkable passivity of “the Palestinians are suffering”. It’s written as if there is no active agent to oppose. They just happen to be suffering. They’re just standing around, suffering. Don’t ask why they are suffering. The Israeli government and military don’t have anything to do with it.

They just suffer.

The blockade on Gaza has tightened further since last year and this has worsened the toll on Gaza’s population. In Gaza, people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income, not only by being bombed and shelled. Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water and food scarcity, sewage outflow and ever decreasing resources are disasters caused directly and indirectly by the siege.

People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: “They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”

Gaza has been blockaded by sea and land since 2006. Any individual of Gaza, including fishermen venturing beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli Navy. No one from Gaza can leave from the only two checkpoints, Erez or Rafah, without special permission from the Israelis and the Egyptians, which is hard to come by for many, if not impossible. People in Gaza are unable to go abroad to study, work, visit families, or do business. Wounded and sick people cannot leave easily to get specialised treatment outside Gaza. Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited. Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade. They have run out now. Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce. Agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone, and agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade. 80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on food rations from the UN.

Much of Gaza’s buildings and infrastructure had been destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008—09, and building materials have been blockaded so that schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt. Factories destroyed by bombardment have rarely been rebuilt adding unemployment to destitution.

Despite the difficult conditions, the people of Gaza and their political leaders have recently moved to resolve their conflicts “without arms and harm” through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007. This reconciliation, although accepted by many in the international community, was rejected by Israel. The present Israeli attacks stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank and single out a part of the Palestinian society by destroying the lives of people of Gaza. Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity. Among other lies, it is stated that civilians in Gaza are hostages of Hamas whereas the truth is that the Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and Egyptians.

Gaza has been bombed continuously for the past 14 days followed now by invasion on land by tanks and thousands of Israeli troops. More than 60 000 civilians from Northern Gaza were ordered to leave their homes. These internally displaced people have nowhere to go since Central and Southern Gaza are also subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. The whole of Gaza is under attack. The only shelters in Gaza are the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain shelters already targeted during Cast Lead, killing many.

According to Gaza Ministry of Health and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded are children. Those buried under the rubble are not counted yet. As we write, the BBC reports of the bombing of another hospital, hitting the intensive care unit and operating theatres, with deaths of patients and staff. There are now fears for the main hospital Al Shifa. Moreover, most people are psychologically traumatised in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel.

The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction. An entire area was destroyed on July 20, leaving thousands of displaced people homeless, beside wounding hundreds and killing at least 70—this is way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels. None of these are military objectives. These attacks aim to terrorise, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as also demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild.

They suffer, and it’s just not fair, because people want to end their suffering, and damn their intolerant eyes, they look at who is holding the other end of the gun.

Comments

  1. rq says

    legitimate terrorist targets

    … Like UN schools. Oh right, anywhere in Gaza is a ‘legitimate terrorist target’.

    And this:

    On the other side stands an Islamist terrorist organization, homophobic and misogynistic,

    Because Judaism is free from both? How is this an argument?

  2. sugarfrosted says

    Off topic: That’s not the passive voice, since to suffer is not something you do to someone in this context. Granted it’s used in the same fashion that the passive voice is often used, which is to ignore/delete the acting agent.

  3. BaldySlaphead says

    I know that posting a link to a 17 minute prog rock song called Gaza doesn’t greatly add to any discussion (and may irritate some, for which apologies), but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the lyrics of this song, Gaza by the band Marillion by what PZ’s written above.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaBVTtt53FA&list=UUZRP6c2JuCCZhG4jMjYaYtw

    “Nothing’s ever simple – that’s for sure
    There are grieving mothers on both sides of the wire
    And everyone deserves a chance to feel the future just might be bright
    But any way you look at it – whichever point of view
    For us to have to live like this
    It just ain’t right
    It just ain’t right
    It just ain’t right

    We all want peace and freedom that’s for sure
    But peace won’t come from standing on our necks
    Everyone deserves a chance to feel the future just might be bright
    But any way you look at this – whichever point of view
    For us to have to live like this
    It just ain’t right
    It just ain’t right
    It just ain’t right”

  4. azhael says

    And once again the “but Islam is worse” defense. Surely by now it has become a full blown trope, hasn’t it?

  5. Thomas Hobbes says

    I am wondering who those intellectuals are. I see no names nor quotes. PZ, you might be one of them!

  6. says

    While it’s not worth a hill of beans compared with the reality of the situation, I’m with sugarfrosted.
    I’m sure you don’t like it when non-biologists say ill-informed things about your field of study, so please check on what a passive clause is, and don’t just use ‘passive’ as a general term of disapprobation for language you don’t like.
    “the Palestinians are suffering”: they are suffering, and that clause clearly says they are (whatever the context).
     
    And, rather more on topic, I think that while suffering may not be ‘the only measure of justice’ (or at least of a cry for justice), it’s a damn big part of it.

  7. says

    PZ, this is one of those rare occasions that you’ve completely lost me. You’re wrong.
    Rationalists especially should frame this conflict as civilisation against religious barbarism. Hamas has the West Bank hostage, and if the locals support Hamas, it’s either complicity or Stockholm syndrome.
    Most would be aware of the analysis that says that, if the existential threat of the 20th century was against fascism, then that of the 21st century is against religious fundamentalism. I agree.
    We should support Israel. They are the good guys here.

  8. cyberax says

    @Nathan Zamprogno.
    I totally agree. Zionism as the sacred right of any Jew to return to their Palestinian homeland is a religious fundamentalism and we definitely should fight against it. Oh, wait.

    Right now Israel is an apartheid state. And HAMAS’ methods are hardly distinguishable from those of Jewish settlers bombing Arab buses in 30-s. Or maybe of the insurgents in the Warsaw ghetto. Take your pick.

  9. says

    @Nathan
    I suspect that when any group thinks that their local god has given them something that horrible, vile things will ensue.
    Israel is one of the worst things to come out of WWII.

  10. Saad says

    @Nathan Zamprogno
    Where in the post did PZ say Hamas shouldn’t be opposed? This is about the Israeli military operations killing thousands of civilians.

  11. says

    Nathan:

    PZ, this is one of those rare occasions that you’ve completely lost me. You’re wrong.
    Rationalists especially should frame this conflict as civilisation against religious barbarism. Hamas has the West Bank hostage, and if the locals support Hamas, it’s either complicity or Stockholm syndrome.
    Most would be aware of the analysis that says that, if the existential threat of the 20th century was against fascism, then that of the 21st century is against religious fundamentalism. I agree.
    We should support Israel. They are the good guys here.

    Oh, well if the locals support Hamas (big if there), then that totes justifies slaughtering them.
    I’m sorry, which side of the conflict is barbaric? Do the deaths of innocent, non combatants mean nothing to you? Making people live in a constant state of fear and terror means nothing? Israel is bombing Gaza under the pretense of taking out the terrorists, and in the process is terrorizing people and you think this is a good thing?
    That’s appalling and not at all a humanist perspective. You’ve clearly dehumanized the people in Gaza so much that you agree with them all being killed. Is human life worth so little to you? It’s scary to think that you see the actions of Israel as being those of “good guys”. You need to recalibrate your morality meter.

  12. VP says

    Just because someone is the “good guy” does not mean you need to support every action of theirs unconditionally.

    That’s some really scary Manichean shit, and in this case is a worse version of “hey, we cannot criticize Dawkins. He is one of the good guys”.

    The inability of some really smart people to differentiate between criticizing the actions of the Israeli state and claiming that Israel should not exist is amazingly infuriating.

  13. sirbedevere says

    Why is it that whenever someone points out that ‘every story has two sides’ isn’t always true they do so in the context of a story that does have two sides?

  14. erichoug says

    We as a country should not be supporting religious theocracies or any country that establishes multi-tiered citizenship. Israel fails on both counts.

  15. U Frood says

    I’m continually frustrated that I keep coming back to one idea. Kick everyone out. Sorry, Israel, Palestine, if you can’t learn to share this land, nobody gets it. Kick everyone out, nobody’s allowed in.

    It’s a horrible idea, of course.

  16. Rasmus says

    Nathan Zamprogno:

    No, Hamas has virtually no power in the West Bank. The West Bank as a whole is controlled by the IDF, which is slowly but surely concentrating the Palestinians into isolated areas. The interior of the Palestinian areas are policed by Fatah, but the IDF comes in and grabs lands for Israeli settlers whenever it pleases, so it’s really a ghetto-like situation where Fatah is the ghetto police.

    Israel is indeed civilized, in the good old western sense, just like the British and the French used to be. This sort of civilization is usually extremely bad news for those who are being civilized by the civilized. Some peoples in the past have been civilized to the point where they no longer exist! There are now at least two Knesset members who speak openly about the idea of mass murdering civilian Palestinians until the only remaining Palestinians surrender and swear allegiance to Israel, which in practice means a complete and utter extermination. I guess we will see if that argument catches on or not in the years ahead.

    Oh yeah, the rockets. I feel sorry for the Israelis who come under rocket fire. A little bit of discomfort is perhaps to be expected when you are at war, even when the adversary is vastly inferior to you on strength.

  17. hillaryrettig says

    >But I do have to admire the remarkable passivity of “the Palestinians are suffering”.

    I have to yet again pitch Mistakes Were Made about Tavris and Aronson, a serious but fun book about how people develop and maintain delusions. Passively phrased title is a quote from Kissinger about (if I recall properly) his decision to bomb Cambodia.

  18. dianne says

    Rationalists especially should frame this conflict as civilisation against religious barbarism.

    Ok. In that case, which side is which? It’s not as though Israel is a secular state. It’s whole point is that it’s not. And it is getting more and more fundamentalist as time goes on. This is a conflict that has extended indefinitely because the leaders of both sides think they have more to gain by extending it than by making peace. But Israel has greater power and therefore more options for ending the conflict. If Israel really is a democracy and Gaza not, as is implied in the “Israel is civilized” meme, then Israeli citizens have more power to throw their exploitive politicians out than the Palestinians do. So why are they dodging wildly any time someone tries to ask them to act responsibly?

  19. dianne says

    Kick everyone out. Sorry, Israel, Palestine, if you can’t learn to share this land, nobody gets it. Kick everyone out, nobody’s allowed in.

    Who’s using passive voice now? Yeah, I know, you can’t tell, it’s passive voice. Who is kicking Israel and Palestine out and what is their authority to do so? The only people who have a real right to decide how to settle this conflict are Israelis and Palestinians. The international community can try its best to avoid feeding the fire and to help make solutions possible but it has no right to kick everyone out. (Yes, I know you said it was a bad idea and that you regret that your mind keeps going there, but it’s a good example of how our prejudices bite us in the ass on issues like this.)

  20. funknjunk says

    Chomsky’s almost always great. Here he is on Democracy Now. I suggest watching all 3 parts of the interview. Great analysis. http://www.democracynow.org/2014/8/7/a_hideous_atrocity_noam_chomsky_on As far as I can see, Israel has Hamas using terroristic tactics? YEs. And so did pre-state Israel. But it’s “freedom for me, not for thee” with the Israelis. They’re the “good guys” Define good guys. If group 1 does X to meet their goals, and group 2 does the same thing, why is group 1 noble and righteous and group 2 terrorist? I don’t get it and never will.

  21. vairitas says

    “Somehow, that’s a familiar refrain. My side is logical, your side is emotional. Quit looking at those dead children! There is a good reason we had to bomb them, and you shouldn’t get all weepy about a few small bits of meat.

    odd, but change bomb, to abort, and this sounds exactly like something you would say to an anti abortionist…….

  22. Thomathy, Such A 'Mo says

    vairitas, no it doesn’t. It’s not even remotely comparable. Content and context, how do they work, right?

  23. vaiyt says

    Rationalists especially should frame this conflict as civilisation against religious barbarism.

    Israeli Man’s Burden?

  24. AlexanderZ says

    dianne #21:

    The only people who have a real right to decide how to settle this conflict are Israelis and Palestinians.

    Except we all know how they will try to settle it, don’t we?

    vairitas #23:

    odd, but change bomb, to abort, and this sounds exactly like something you would say to an anti abortionist…….

    Fetuses aren’t children. Don’t like that answer? Want to argue about it? Then take it to the Thunderdome thread (see link to the right, above PZ’s photo), or wait until another abortion-related thread comes up. This thread is about the Israeli conflict, and it’s a complicated enough topic without you derailing the thread.

    mx89 #4:

    folks like Lapid are even more well trained.

    You’ve made my day. I think you’re the only one to say that Lapid is well trained at anything. He isn’t. He is like an Israeli cross between Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich – with complete lack of education or desire for knowledge of the former (supposedly he didn’t even finish high-school) and the “intellectual” ambitions of the latter (for his fame he got a unique super-fast enrollment into a PhD program from a right-wing university without even obtaining a B.A. or M.A.).
    What he is is highly indoctrinated and so sure of himself that he’s stupid enough to try to convince outsiders (most Hasbara is for internal use only).

  25. raven says

    Rationalists especially should frame this conflict as civilisation against religious barbarism.

    No.

    Rationalists should frame this conflict as Israeli religious barbarism against Palestinian religious barbarism.

    We humans have a tendency to see conflicts as good versus evil, right versus wrong, light versus dark. In this case, IMO, both sides are wrong, both sides are drenched in blood, and neither is worth rooting for.

  26. Marc Abian says

    Wikipedia, terrorism.

    Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts that are intended to create fear (terror); are perpetrated for a religious, political, or ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants

    In what way does Israel not satisfy these criteria?

    #8

    Rationalists especially should frame this conflict as civilisation against religious barbarism

    Civilisation eh?

    https://storify.com/davidsheen/israeli-army-the-next-generation
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/07/palestinians-return-home-israeli-troops-faeces-graffiti
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/15/world/middleeast/israelis-watch-bombs-drop-on-gaza-from-front-row-seats.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_citizens_of_Israel#Civil_rights

  27. says

    Richardelguru

    so please check on what a passive clause is, and don’t just use ‘passive’ as a general term of disapprobation for language you don’t like.
    “the Palestinians are suffering”: they are suffering, and that clause clearly says they are (whatever the context).

    That’s because “suffering” isn’t a transitive verb which means you can’t make it a true passive anyway.
    Look at the transitive verbs. They’re either turned into intransitive verbs: “the blockade has tightened” or the passive is used indeed: “Gaza has been blockaded”.

  28. U Frood says

    That’s because “suffering” isn’t a transitive verb which means you can’t make it a true passive anyway.

    Well, there’s the sentence “He does not suffer fools lightly.” Which I suppose could be made passive as “Fools are not suffered lightly”

    But that doesn’t apply to this use of suffer.

  29. says

    Nathan Zamprogno #8

    PZ, this is one of those rare occasions that you’ve completely lost me. You’re wrong.
    Rationalists especially should frame this conflict as civilisation against religious barbarism.

    Oh really? I wonder which sides you’re going assign which labels…

    Hamas has the West Bank hostage, and if the locals support Hamas, it’s either complicity or Stockholm syndrome.

    Why am I not shocked?

    Let me compress the timescale here for you. By UN decree, a large portion of your rather small homeland is decreed to be the rightful property of a bunch of people who claim their ancestors lived there some two thousand years ago. These people arrive, from all over the world, in droves, driving you and your relatives and neighbours into smaller and smaller conclaves, which eventually become little more than concentration camps. You’re half-starved, and don’t even have autonomy in the areas you nominally own. Over the years, you notice that the only times the outside world takes note of your plight is when you do something violent.

    I’m pretty fuckin’ sure I know, at least in broad outline, what methods you’re going to turn to in future. I may not like those violent methods, but I can damn well understand why you’ve reached a point where they seem to you to be the only practical option.

    Most would be aware of the analysis that says that, if the existential threat of the 20th century was against fascism, then that of the 21st century is against religious fundamentalism.

    What part of the above-described subjugation of the native people of an area do you ascribe to the religion of those people? Really, I want to know, because I don’t see it.

    I agree.

    Wow, you agreed with your own premise. Didn’t see that coming!

    We should support Israel. They are the good guys here.

    Yeah, because forcing people into concentration camps and stealing their land and resources is the mark of good guys everywhere.

  30. says

    Why? Because they have turned suffering into the only measure of justice.

    Rats below, the irony is too much to bear.

  31. says

    Rationalists should frame this conflict as Israeli religious barbarism against Palestinian religious barbarism.

    No. A thousand times no. Religion is a very small component of what’s going on and if you focus on the religion aspect of it, you’re playing into the hands of those who are trying to polarize the situation using ideology. It’s about land, rights, displacement, and a recent history of violence. Saying it’s about religion downplays the much more important fact that it’s about land, rights, displacement, and violence.

  32. laurentweppe says

    They treat those who have a clear moral stance as primitive

    No: they treat people who have the gall to pretend they epitomize absolute moral rectitude as primitive.

    That’s because said people are primitive, and also smug, dishonest, much less clever that they fancy themselves, and with clear tendencies to quickly devolve into yet another corrupt, lazy, overfed and abusive guillotine fodder aristocracy.

    ***

    My side is logical, your side is emotional

    in other words “I’m exceedingly smarter than you so shut the fuck up and bow down to your intellectual betters“. I would expect such claims from a schoolyard bully tormenting some kid with worse grades than him or from a hormonally imbalance rebellious teenager at the peek of his puberty crisis clumsily trying to infuriate grown ups: such attitude from a powerful statesman does not bode well for Israel’s and the surrounding countries’ future.

    ***

    On the other side stands an Islamist terrorist organization, homophobic and misogynistic,

    Because Judaism is free from both? How is this an argument?

    Because Of course Only brown skinned mizrahi plebeians indulge in homophobia an misogyny: a well bred secular white ashkenazi boy of hungarian descent like mister Lapid is of course totally, absolutely, genetically alien to such feelings, as evidenced by the complacency the government he’s part of displayed toward its homophobic education minister.
    /sarcasm

    ***

    And once again the “but Islam is worse” defense. Surely by now it has become a full blown trope, hasn’t it?

    I’ve argued for years that “but Islam is worse” is and has always been codewords for “These brown people are inferior“, meant first and foremost to hide one’s racism behind a veil of pretend-secularism.
    I rest my case.

  33. says

    Marcus #36:

    No. A thousand times no. Religion is a very small component of what’s going on and if you focus on the religion aspect of it, you’re playing into the hands of those who are trying to polarize the situation using ideology. It’s about land, rights, displacement, and a recent history of violence. Saying it’s about religion downplays the much more important fact that it’s about land, rights, displacement, and violence.

    QFMFT

  34. Anthony K says

    Religion is a very small component of what’s going on and if you focus on the religion aspect of it, you’re playing into the hands of those who are trying to polarize the situation using ideology.

    Yeah, but what have Rationalists™ got besides religion = bad?

  35. AlexanderZ says

    Marcus Ranum #36

    It’s about land, rights, displacement, and a recent history of violence.

    That’s one way to look at it.

    Another is that it’s about identity. There is nothing to unite Israeli Jews (or any Jews for that matter) except the land of Israel. Similarly, nothing differs Palestinians from the Arab nations other than their connection to Palestine.
    For most people involved that’s a basic part of their existence (ever notice how most Palestinian and Israeli liberals either live abroad or wish to do so? Curious, no?). Which is why it’s not merely about “land” – an identity cannot be divided by maps or borders or treaties. For them Palestine is Israel and Israel is Palestine.
    Which is why each identity can only be secure once it annihilates the other.

  36. says

    Another is that it’s about identity. There is nothing to unite Israeli Jews (or any Jews for that matter) except the land of Israel. Similarly, nothing differs Palestinians from the Arab nations other than their connection to Palestine.

    You could look at it that way, if you were trying to distract people from what it’s actually about, which is land, rights, displacement, and a recent history of violence.

  37. grumpypathdoc says

    mx89@#4
    Obsessiveness is sometime a good thing; thanks for the references.
    I live in Western New York and in 1820 a proposal was set forth for developing a Jewish homeland on Grand Island, NY near where I live (Ararat city see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposals_for_a_Jewish_state), as well as in the Sitka area in Alaska. That was the setting for the novel “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon.
    One can only wonder what could have happened under either circumstance.

  38. Brony says

    I can respect the emotions on the Israeli side that come from terrorist attacks that do occur, and the frustration of dealing with people that use terrorism and exist among the population. They do have to deal with difficult problems and there are real people with lost and suffering loved ones.

    I can respect the emotions of the Palestinian side that come from being compressed into tiny areas of ever decreasing land, with little autonomy (personal and otherwise), destroyed infrastructure, dealing with sloppy and indiscriminate (hopefully, I would hate to think some of the targets were deliberate) military responses that produce the atrocities we are seeing now.

    But despite the issues our community is having in ranking suffering (which have a lot to do with people that won’t accept the difficult to imagine experiences of others into their perspective), perspective is easier here because of the nature of the suffering. When you get a lot of examples of suffering on multiple levels of different sides like this situation you can do some ranking and think about most effective responses. (I see interesting similarities in how the “sides” are denying or ignoring the suffering of the other side. More stupid human bullshit).
    Like it or not Israel is causing the most suffering, it has more power and that will have an effect. When you break up a fight you should pull off the stronger person first because that is where the greatest damage potential and need for self-control lies. It’s that “power and responsibility” thing and why I reserve most of my rhetoric for criticizing Israel at the moment. If that list of items causing Palestinian suffering were not there I would be only criticizing the Palestinians.

    Given the way the social dynamics are operating at the moment there may come a point (that possibly already exists) where the Palestinians as a group become justified in seeing Israel as a threat because of the items I listed. Israel is collectively treating all Palestinians as a threat (otherwise why the isolation, infrastructure destruction, and similar?) and that will have consequences in terms of how the Palestinians will respond as a group. Intentions are meaningless when the reality is looking more and more like a holocaust. Just as here in the US there is an unwillingness to apply the label terrorism to right-wing terrorism, or torture to things that the US has done, there is a resistance to identifying actions committed by the Israelis as terrorist. But I can’t see use of suffering and destruction (intentional or otherwise, emotions will do what they do) meant to achieve social and political goals a anything but terrorism and I can’t abide that sort of hypocrisy.

  39. AlexanderZ says

    Marcus Ranum #41:

    You could look at it that way, if you were trying to distract people from what it’s actually about, which is land, rights, displacement, and a recent history of violence.

    Yeah, you’ve figured me out. I’m all about distracting people.

    Why do you think both nations for generations can’t agree on a few klicks of land? Why is there a war with Gaza, when there are no settlements there and the Palestinian land is in Palestinian hands? Could it be a bit more complicated than that? Or does it comfort you to think that all the people in the world are rational beings that would stop fighting once everyone’s rights are secure?

    Or am I misunderstanding your repeated remark? Care to elaborate?

  40. Saad says

    Marcus Ranum

    You could look at it that way, if you were trying to distract people from what it’s actually about, which is land, rights, displacement, and a recent history of violence.

    But some of those things are intertwined with religion.

  41. says

    Why do you think both nations for generations can’t agree on a few klicks of land?

    Because a lot of the owners and residents of the land were violently displaced by its current occupants, who were not dislodged after violent attempts to dislodge them, who have responded with further violence?

    You must be a dumb fuck if you’re trying to pretend there’s anything more complicated than that going on.

    Why is there a war with Gaza, when there are no settlements there and the Palestinian land is in Palestinian hands?

    Let me guess, you’re also one of those dumb fucks who pretended not to understand why the Native Americans were all pissed off after being forced into their oh-so-exclusive reservations?

    Care to elaborate?

    Can you understand simple sentences? I think you’re just pretending not to understand. You wouldn’t be the first person to try that “Just asking a question” “help me understand” strategy around here…

  42. says

    some of those things are intertwined with religion.

    Sure!!

    But here’s another problem with the “it’s religion” narrative: it implies that both parties are such crazed religious extremists that it’s impossible for anyone to ever get along. That’s manifestly false because they got along before the problems with land, violence, and displacement. Did you notice that Palestinians were not travelling to Europe to assault Jews there? Oh, well, whadda you know – I guess they didn’t hate them that much!

    Yes, the religious narrative has been being promoted on both sides, and that’s a useful distraction for the stupid. That’s why it’s being promoted as the reason. I guess it worked on you?

  43. says

    Saad #45

    You could look at it that way, if you were trying to distract people from what it’s actually about, which is land, rights, displacement, and a recent history of violence.

    But some of those things are intertwined with religion.

    Please elaborate. What bearing does the Palestinians’ majority religion have on them being ghettoised and blockaded?

  44. zenlike says

    Nathan Zamprogno, if you want to come over as a True Rationalist, you might want to first learn about the difference between ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza’, and the difference between ‘Palestinian Authority’, ‘Fatah’, and ‘Hamas’.

  45. Brony says

    Religion is a convenient social means of getting people on the same page socially speaking. It’s not a simple issue and both sides share the problem from the creation of Israel itself to the justifications of terrorists.

    No religion is a solid block of the same people despite different trends in groups (I’m not pointing at anyone in particular but I’m also not going to ignore the people I meet that want to pretend all of “X” is the same). Every religion has moderate and liberal branches and all humans tend to look more positively and less negatively at people more like themselves. It’s a hard habit to break. Treating a group as a single entity casually (characterizing Israel as causing more suffering at this point in time is not casual, current violent conflict and pulling off the stronger person fighting matters) cuts off opportunities to work with moderates and liberals.

    I can’t say there are easy solutions outside of the fact that the core of the suffering and frustration is linked to things like violations of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (death and suffering of relatives is right at the most sensitive level), and religion is a convenient means to organize and contextualize how communities are responding. Addressing people’s emotions while getting at objective reality is among the hardest thing that we try to do.

  46. AlexanderZ says

    Marcus Ranum #46:

    Because a lot of the owners and residents of the land were violently displaced by its current occupants, who were not dislodged after violent attempts to dislodge them, who have responded with further violence?

    How would that account for the 1920 and 1929 riots, the 1936 rebellion, and the 1947 war?
    In those times there were no Palestinian refugees, little to no land disputes and no occupation. How does that fit into your black-and-white US-centered world view?
    Even the more recent conflicts rarely involve refugees. Israel’s recent war in Lebanon was with Hizballah – a local Shiite militia, not the great many Palestinian refugees that live there.

    Let me guess, you’re also one of those dumb fucks who pretended not to understand why the Native Americans were all pissed off after being forced into their oh-so-exclusive reservations?

    You’ve guessed wrong. Do try to keep your mind on one subject, you’re struggling with it as it is.

    Marcus Ranum #47:

    That’s manifestly false because they got along before the problems with land, violence, and displacement.

    No, they didn’t. Above are examples to the contrary. Please educate yourself before you speak – you’ll sound so much wiser then!

    Did you notice that Palestinians were not travelling to Europe to assault Jews there?

    Now it’s my turn to play the “guessing game”. My guess is that you’re the type of person who defends the recent rise in antisemitism in Europe as a reasonable response to Israel’s aggression. Am I right?

    Regardless, let’s be frank. I’m partial to both a two-state solution and a single-state solution, whichever is more practical and less likely to cause violence at the time of signing. Since you appear to be very sure of your intelligence and morality I’d like to hear your brilliant solution.

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

    @Thomas Hobbes, #6:

    I am wondering who those intellectuals are. I see no names nor quotes.

    While I cannot take the time to name all the intellectuals in the Academy and the Media who have been named as members of the Moral Relativists and members of a terrorist ring, I have here in my hand a list of 205.

  48. says

    1920 and 1929 riots, the 1936 rebellion, and the 1947 war?

    I’m familiar with those. For example, the 1936 rebellion was against the British rule and zionism and was – surprise – about land, displacement, and a history of violence – not about religion. Or are you trying to say the arabs were angry because of the Anglicans? Just kidding – the problem was not that the Palestinian population hated the Jews who were immigrating because of religion it was more run-of-the-mill anti-immigrant sentiment, as is seen everywhere all the time when human populations merge. Surprise, surprise, anti-immigrant sentiments occur even when there is no religious narrative to fall back on – have you ever considered that?

    you’re the type of person who defends the recent rise in antisemitism in Europe as a reasonable response to Israel’s aggression. Am I right?

    No.

    I’m partial to both a two-state solution and a single-state solution, whichever is more practical and less likely to cause violence at the time of signing. Since you appear to be very sure of your intelligence and morality I’d like to hear your brilliant solution.

    I don’t have a solution; I think the situation should have never gotten to where it’s gotten. So it’s not appropriate to ask me how I think we should solve a problem that I don’t think we should have allowed to occur, other than “get a time machine.” Besides, I doubt my opinion really interests you; you’re just throwing cheap rhetorical flourishes.

    Above are examples to the contrary.

    No, they are not. They are examples of ethic/nationalist tension caused over land, displacement, and a history of violence.

    If your argument is that it’s all because arabs hate jews, why don’t you explain why the conflict only appears when land, displacement, and a history of violence is also prevalent? As I said earlier, there weren’t arabs going over to Europe to kill jews just because they hate them so much. That only happened when Zionism began – and, with it, immigration leading to fights over land, displacement and over time a history of violence.

  49. lorn says

    Palestinians talk of living in an open air jail and specifically of the blockade.

    There are problems with taking that at face value. In the not too distant past the Palestinians were much less hemmed in. The walls went up after a string of suicide bombers staged attacks. After the wall was built the suicide bombings stopped. Coincidence is not causation but it has to be noted that all of the small number of suicide bombings more recently were committed by Palestinians who used tunnels to go under the walls.

    Then there is the blockade. Blockades are accused of stopping medical supplies and food and other vital materials. They seem to be stopping something. But the blockade is clearly not stopping weapons, materials for manufacturing weapons, and materials for constructing tunnels. Every one of those long range rockets, some of which are thirty feet long and weigh most of a ton, literally, was smuggled in, as was the concrete for tunnels and materials for smaller rockets, mortar bombs, assorted sophisticated anti-tank missiles, explosives and small arms with their associated ammunition. These are not getting into Gaza in small quantities smuggled in peoples socks. Smuggling is clearly an industrial scale enterprise.

    And then there is the military history of the area. Every single time the Israelis loosen border controls or move out of an area the import of weapons multiply and once sufficient arms are stockpiled the area is used to launch attacks. It is entirely predictable. Give it a few weeks for them to perform the necessary logistical evolutions and the Palestinian rockets and mortars start firing. Everyone concerned can pretty much predict when this will happen.

    So no, the blockade will not be lifted, not any time soon.

    So far the plan is that the Palestinians will disarm as condition for loosening of the blockade. I would add that the Palestinians, as precondition should have to recognize Israel’s right to exist. That wouldn’t specify where or how, border or mandate, but simply the right to exist.

    Like I said, this isn’t going to happen any time soon.

  50. zenlike says

    Strange, I thought collective punishment was illegal nowadays. Must be those truly civilised values I keep hearing about…

  51. robertfoster says

    Not as bad as the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943, but with a little more practice the Israelis may yet get the knack of it. Ironically apt pupils.

  52. lorn says

    zenlike @ 55:

    The Israelis don’t call it punishment, collective or otherwise. The blockades and walls are arms control and separation of hostile parties. An effort to restrain, not punish.

    On the other hand the Plaistinian firing of rockets, mortars, and digging of tunnels are all part of a publicly admitted aggressive strategy to punish and kill Jews. In other words, collective punishment for alleged crimes. With, I might add, a largely un-aimed and indiscriminate mechanism for applying that punishment.

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

    Well, if Israeli don’t call it punishment…

    (how did the Nazis call what they did?)

  54. Brony says

    @ lorn
    What Israelis call it, and what it appears to be are very different things. Since literally all Palestinians are not engaging in such tactics, the global effects of Israeli actions are unwarranted. If you continue down this road and the collective actions of Israel continue to have effects on all Palestinian people you are pretty much letting people treat all of Israel like they are creating a holocaust.

    Bad behavior does not justify more bad behavior.

  55. robro says

    anat @#33

    Israel does have other voices, and they are being silenced.

    Thank you for the reminder. It’s so true. There are many more than two sides to this situation. But of course, the simplistic two-sided formula fits the agenda of the various powers playing out this game and dominates any discussion about the ongoing disaster. Everybody is claiming the moral high ground while they dig ever more graves. Perhaps instead of trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong between Hamas and the Israeli government, we should give other voices from within Israel and the Palestinian community opportunities to be heard.

  56. mindnoodle says

    I like what JHK said about it:

    “Apparently world opinion also doesn’t take seriously Israel’s founding maxim, “never again,” meaning that Israelis will not passively wait for world opinion to save them from an enemy that plainly and clearly seeks to annihilate them, as happened 1933-45. The Hamas organization is explicitly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That is not a rhetorical gimmick; it is its declared unwavering primary goal.

    The claim that Israel seeks to annihilate the Palestinians is simply a lie. Israel seeks to stop rocket attacks and tunnel invasions, and as long as Hamas is dedicated to those actions, they can expect a forceful Israeli reaction. The sealed border of Gaza has been part of that reaction, to counteract the traffic in war materials and the ready supply of suicide bombers who, Hamas declares, “love death more than the Israelis love life.”

    The Hamas war leaders are killing their own people to score public relations points. The particulars of the Hamas arsenal embedded among the civilian Gaza population are so firmly established that the facts are hardly worth rehearsing. Anyway, the world doesn’t care about those facts. Israel’s will to exist is an annoyance to it. …”

    http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/excuse-me-for-living/

  57. raven says

    Well, if Israeli don’t call it punishment…

    (how did the Nazis call what they did?)

    Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer. One people, One Nation, One leader.

  58. raven says

    Well, if Israeli don’t call it punishment…

    (how did the Nazis call what they did?)

    Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer. One people, One Nation, One leader.

    Nietzche said it better.

    Nietzsche — ‘Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster.

  59. anteprepro says

    Sigh. And here comes some random commenter named mindnoodle, reposting someone else’s bullshit. Really. Anyone with a fraction of a conscience and three or more working brain cells could see what is wrong with calling Israeli’s bombing Palestinian citizens “killing their own people to score public relations points.” You need to be incredibly blinkered or you need to be actively spreading falsehoods to manipulate people, in order to say such an obviously ridiculous and morally repugnant thing as if it were obvious truth.

  60. laurentweppe says

    (how did the Nazis call what they did?)

    Pest control
    70 years ago: the targets of ethnic cleansings were compared to vermins

    The Israelis don’t call it punishment, collective or otherwise

    No: they call it mowing the lawn
    today, the targets of ethnic cleansings are compared to weeds
    .
    I expect that by the end of this century, earthmoving will be used as an euphemism to depict slaughter: that way, victims will have completed their degrading trip from being compared to lesser animals, to plants, to inorganic minerals.

  61. raven says

    And here comes some random commenter named mindnoodle, reposting someone else’s bullshit.

    Kunstler, who mind_is_noodles reposted, it is an all around crackpot who is occasionally amusing.

    His big idea is that the USA is a dead country walking and we will all have to go back to a preindustrial lifestyle, once all the fossil fuels are gone. It’s a secular Apocalypse and nothing he claims will happen ever happens, just like the religious ones.

    I enjoy reading him every once in a while. But then again, I read a lot of Dark Fantasy and Urban Fantasy.

  62. AlexanderZ says

    Marcus Ranum #53:
    It’s common curtsey around here to post the name and comment number of the person you’re replying to.
    You replied to my comment, but I wasn’t talking about religion – Saad #45 was.
    I know we all look the same… j/k

    If your argument is that it’s all because arabs hate jews, why don’t you explain why the conflict only appears when land, displacement, and a history of violence is also prevalent? As I said earlier, there weren’t arabs going over to Europe to kill jews just because they hate them so much. That only happened when Zionism began – and, with it, immigration leading to fights over land, displacement and over time a history of violence.

    Not every country reacts to immigration the same way. In Europe France, England and Nordic countries were more accepting (to say the least) to outsiders than Germany or Poland. In the Middle East Egypt and Syria were much more accommodating to Palestinian refugees than Jordan and Lebanon, where their arrival sparked a civil war.
    What do Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Poland and many other? They are young nations without a formed identity.

    That identity is the thing that tells a nation when “land” or “history of violence” is worth fighting over and when it’s time to cut your losses. Israel was willing to return an entire peninsula to Egypt and held talks over the Golan Heights with Syria (in one time the talks have gotten so far that only Benjamin Netanyahu, then just an MP, revealing of secret relevant military documents in a televised Knesset speech), but with Lebanon Israel fought over half a village (literally!) and with Palestinians Israel will fight for even less.

    So, you see, it’s not a matter of “land” (because Sinai and Golan are huge, relatively speaking), nor a “history of violence” (since the wars with Egypt and Syria were by far bloodier), nor a matter of displacement – in Sinai the settlements were quickly dismantled and the Bedouin refugees returned to their lands and in Golan, Israel was quite willing to remove the settlements (at least Rabin was willing, and he easily deflected the public outcry of the Golan settlers) and the local Druuze can meet and marry with Syrian Druuze on the other side of the border.

    Why what works with Syria and Egypt can’t work with Palestine (or even Lebanon)? Because of the national identity I was talking about. Sinai and Golan were seen as vital assets, but didn’t hold any significant emotional meaning. Which is why they were treated like assets – held until the cost outweighs the benefit. Israel was willing to spill blood there, but only up to a point.
    With the West Bank it’s different. It’s seen as a part of “true Israel”, but more than that, an existence of a free Palestine challenges the question at the heart of Israel’s existence – “who is an Israeli/Jew?” or “what is Israel”? That’s a fairly common question with huge repercussions – so much so that the topic of this thread, Yair Lapid, once hosted a show where he asked guests “what is most Israeli?” (his father’s answer? “You are”). For most people it comes down to “true Israeli” land in one form or another (current, historical, religious – it doesn’t matter, all are mixed together) so having another people claim rights over the same land is seen by many as a collective suicide – the end of Israel in spirit, followed by a physical end.

    Besides, I doubt my opinion really interests you; you’re just throwing cheap rhetorical flourishes.

    You’re the one who has been insulting me, and more damningly, casting doubt on my intentions in this thread and on this blog.
    Regardless, that’s one of those question that requires moral honesty. Hindsight is always easy – making a judgement about the future requires owning up to one’s moral beliefs. Hitchens tried to do that with the Iraqi war and ended up supporting liars and torturers. So your opinion, as well as that of any other moral person does interest me.


    lorn #54

    Palestinians talk of living in an open air jail and specifically of the blockade.

    There are problems with taking that at face value. In the not too distant past the Palestinians were much less hemmed in. The walls went up after a string of suicide bombers staged attacks.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about at all. I won’t correct all of your mistakes, just the first ones to give you some sense of your ignorance of the subject:
    a. “Open jail” refers to the Gaza strip not the West Bank. The West Bank has some sections walled-off, but the wall has gaps in many places (intentionally – the settlers don’t like being enclosed with Palestinians) and on the entire Jordan border it’s absent completely. Gaza, on the other hand, is completely closed from land, both on the Israeli side and the Egyptian side, with the sea being constantly patrolled (any fishing boat that ventures more than a few miles into sea is shot down). All commodities must pass through Israel-controlled or Israel-supervised entrances. What goes in and out is decided by Israel. Sometimes the decisions are ridiculously stupid, like whether toys, boots, strawberries or humus is allowed (that’s the blockade you defend further down your comment). The West Bank wall is mostly fences, while the Gaza wall really is mostly a wall.
    Additionally, the phrase alludes to the fact that Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Mostly because it’s where the largest refugees camps are. Refugees who were banished from places that are now Israeli cities (like Lod, but others as well).

    b. The walls, and earlier the fences, around Gaza predate the 2nd Intifada. They are a modification of the old Israel-Egypt border and have existed in one form or another since Israel and Egypt signed the 1949 armistice agreements.

    c. The decision to wall-off parts of West Bank came not after the attacks themselves, but after the supposedly successful “Operation Defensive Wall” that was the largest military operation against Palestinians since the early stages of “Operation Galilean Peace” (that later morphed into the first Lebanon war). The wall itself is being built as we speak, and its construction began a couple of years after the suicide attacks diminished. So the connection between suicide attacks and the wall isn’t as clear-cut as you say.

    lorn #57:

    The Israelis don’t call it punishment, collective or otherwise.

    No, they call it “vengeance”. Here and here you can read about it. Even Bibi called said the aim of the recent operation is to avenge the three murdered boys (before he switched that objective to something else a couple of times).

  63. laurentweppe says

    So, you see, it’s not a matter of “land” (because Sinai and Golan are huge, relatively speaking)

    Sinai is a desertic peninsula three times larger than Israel with little value: controlling it would eventually have exhausted the tiny country resources and manpower. The fact that the Israeli ruling class expelled thousands of Bedoins from the peninsula and attempted to colonize it after the six days war merely shows that being ruled by inept dimwits and depending on western leniency and financial support to soften the impact of their self-destructive whims is not a recent development.

  64. alkaloid says

    #66, @Raven

    Kunstler, who mind_is_noodles reposted, it is an all around crackpot who is occasionally amusing.

    His big idea is that the USA is a dead country walking and we will all have to go back to a preindustrial lifestyle, once all the fossil fuels are gone. It’s a secular Apocalypse and nothing he claims will happen ever happens, just like the religious ones.

    I enjoy reading him every once in a while. But then again, I read a lot of Dark Fantasy and Urban Fantasy.

    Kunstler is an incorrigibly useless bigot who has it in for everyone who isn’t white. Generally, as a black person who has actually read him before I knew what he was going to say given his further persistence in his racist views I use admiration for Kunstler as a warning sign that whoever I am talking with is probably also a racist. His comments on Trayvon Martin aren’t really all that different from the views of the ‘person’ in the Robin Williams thread who called us all animals.

    Yes, I put ‘person’ in quotes for her because she deserved it. If you find this objectionable then deal with it. If you are that kind of person then maybe you should consider that things might finally start to change for the better in this hellhole of a nation if you hated bigots for being bigots at least as much as she hates us for existing .

  65. Thomas Hobbes says

    @Nathan Zamprogno

    So the the good guy can do anything because his opponent is the bad guy?
    This is not a fucking Hollywood movie. The guy doing bad things IS a bad guy.

    Also, religious barbarism does not come out of nothing. The world has done just about everything possible to make the Middle East the perfect breeding place for religious barbarism, the establishment of Israel as one of the leading factors.

  66. alkaloid says

    @Thomas Hobbes, #72

    I don’t think the problem is ‘religious barbarism’ (a phrase that’s loaded with imperialist baggage) as much as it’s outright colonialism on the part of Israel and supported by the American government (with lots of other governments willing to turn the other way or support Israel quietly as well). I can’t think of any group of people, regardless of their religious affiliations, who would stand by and let themselves be obliterated so their land could be stolen from them.

  67. alkaloid says

    @anteprepro, #64

    So when Hillary Clinton spouts equally revolting nonsense, she is equally worthy of condemnation?

    “I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets,” she told me. “Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult.”

    I asked her if she believed that Israel had done enough to prevent the deaths of children and other innocent people.

    “[J]ust as we try to do in the United States and be as careful as possible in going after targets to avoid civilians,” mistakes are made, she said. “We’ve made them. I don’t know a nation, no matter what its values are—and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position—that hasn’t made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas.”

    Clinton also blamed Hamas for “stage-managing” the conflict. “What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/hillary-clinton-failure-to-help-syrian-rebels-led-to-the-rise-of-isis/375832/

  68. rossthompson says

    Remember, this is the same Hillary Clinton who thought that Egyptians were crazy for wanting to get rid of a dictator who was responsible for countless human rights abuses (not the least of which was torture as a standard police interrogation technique), because “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family”. Her foreign policy statements about the Middle East are definately worth calling out.

  69. says

    AlexanderZ
    It’s common curtsey around here to post the name and comment number of the person you’re replying to.

    So now you’re lecturing me on courtesy? Sorry, but – I’ve been on this forum since the scienceblogs days and what you describe as “common courtesy” is anything but “common” — more to the point, I owe you absolutely nothing, let alone courtesy, common, uncommon, or otherwise.

    Whining about someone’s tone is no substitute for having a point.

    Not every country reacts to immigration the same way.

    Is that the best you can do? Let’s see – I point out that resentment against immigration, when it’s taking place, is more likely to be the underlying cause of violence than religion and you say “not always”? Where did I say ‘always’? And, you do understand that your response basically agrees with my premise by seeking an exception, rather than refuting it?

    And, thank you for the much-needed morning belly-laugh. France, accepting of immigration? I’ve spent a lot of time in France (most of my summers as a kid, and a hundred or so visits as an adult) and anyone who’s ever spent time there will tell you that France has huge divisions over immigration (to the point where some neighborhoods are basically like refugee camps) That’s on top of France’s shameful history of mistreating Romany and Jews. But ask someone from Cote D’ivoire or Algeria, who lives in the banlieu, what they think of France’s acceptance of immigrants. Please, do.

    I’m less familiar with the scandinavian countries though I’ve travelled extensively in them, but maybe you’ve managed to forget racist assholes like Anders Breivik? Their “argument” is racial, not religious. Their hatred is pretty much bog-standard dislike of people of a different color from theirs. It’s not religion.

    But, anyhow, I’ll take my point as ceeded, that the conflict in Palestine is framed (for convenience) in religious terms but is about land, displacement, and a history of violence — against and between the local Palestinians and European Jewish immigrants (or should I call them “colonists”?) I.e.: it’s anti-immigrant and it’s vengeance, wearing a thin veil of religion.

    What do Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Poland and many other? They are young nations without a formed identity.

    I have a sneaking suspicion you’re substituting “identity” for racism/tribalism, which I reject. If you want to talk about “identity” you ought to define it better. Culture is an elusive concept, usually introduced for convenience…

    So, you see, it’s not a matter of “land” (because Sinai and Golan are huge, relatively speaking), nor a “history of violence” (since the wars with Egypt and Syria were by far bloodier), nor a matter of displacement – in Sinai the settlements were quickly dismantled and the Bedouin refugees returned to their lands and in Golan, Israel was quite willing to remove the settlements (at least Rabin was willing, and he easily deflected the public outcry of the Golan settlers) and the local Druuze can meet and marry with Syrian Druuze on the other side of the border.

    Truly bizzare. You talk about land, as part of arguing that it’s not about land. Then you talk about displacement and narrow the focus down to the displacement of a few colonial settlers – except for where that didn’t happen – and, what, how does that refute anything? But to be serious for a minute – the entire dialogue about a “two state solution” is about land not religion. The dialogue about who controls Jerusalem is about land primarily and secondarily about religion. The dialogue about whether Israel returns to its partition plan borders, or post 6-day war borders, or gives back the Golan or – it’s about land. There’s not even a pretense, except when talking about access to temple mount, etc, that it’s about religion. So, yes, it’s about land. As far as displacement goes, talk to the million plus refugees in Jordan and tell them there’s no displacement.

    Next are you going to say there’s no history of violence, either? ;)

    having another people claim rights over the same land is seen by many as a collective suicide – the end of Israel in spirit, followed by a physical end.

    Yeah, it’s not about land. I hear you.

    You’re the one who has been insulting me, and more damningly, casting doubt on my intentions in this thread and on this blog.

    I’ve been insulting you? Excuse me, did I say I wouldn’t? Are you now asking me to be more careful of your feeling-weelings, because, why? If I had signed up to be careful of your feelings, I would. But I’ve never given a shit about them and I never will, so complain away – it’s a poor substitute for having a point.

    As far as expresing doubt about your intentions, maybe you should try a little intellectual honesty instead of carefully cherry-picking historical ‘facts’ in such an obvious manner. Then nobody – even me – would challenge your credibility.

    So your opinion, as well as that of any other moral person does interest me.

    Ah. Well, I already said that I think that the situation should have never gotten to where it is, and my opinion is that the solutions to the Israel problem involve a time machine. My opinion is that Israel is a mistake.

    Europe has consistently had a problem with racism against Jews. The actions of many European states (and the US wasn’t so hot, either!) have been absolutely shameful, culminating in The Holocaust. The best response all along would have been to crush European racism but instead the Europeans cooked up a scheme to export their problem to someplace they didn’t give a fuck about. Essentially, it’s the same move as when racists in the US say “go back to Africa!” — as if someone who displaced would find a welcoming home, there, instead. And, insanely, the con worked – Jews actually went giving many European nations their “final solution” without having to kill any more. Of course, they did not go to an unpopulated desert – they went to a place where there were already residents who were resentful of being displaced, often violently, from their land. It should not have happened. US and Europeans should have fucking sucked it up and gotten over their racism. It’s difficult to get anyone in the US to face it, but the root of US support for Israel is, ultimately, racist as well (including the hard-core bible-whackers who want there to be an Israel so that when jesus returns to kill all the Jews they’ll be in one place, FFS). How does one un-make a mistake of such epic proportions? First, one has to confront the reality of the mistake.

  70. lancethruster says

    ~~
    MURDER as COVER for
    THEFT and OPPRESSION
    is NOT *self-defense*

    It’s a war crime.

  71. lancethruster says

    Just wanted to say I am very pleased at the thoughtful responses expressing what I consider true humanist values –
    ~~
    I grew up with the conventional wisdom believing that the Israelis were the “white hats” and that the Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims were the “black hats.” After 9/11, I wanted to know more about the conflict in the ME. I came to the realization that the narrative was totally one-sided. I largely credit many outstanding Jewish voices (my close friend Bernie the Attorney for one) for opening my eyes. I see on a daily basis the efforts by Zionists and their stooges to dismiss truth-tellers in the most reprehensible manner, up to and including threats of violence. Truth needs no army of thugs to establish it; only lies need enforcers. ~

  72. lorn says

    As is so typical of such discussions you are so sure you know, presuming to “correct my mistakes” and hold up my “ignorance” that you fail to acknowledge your own. You also fail to read and understand what I wrote. Equating the barriers, whatever their composition, with punishment and then throwing in so call “vengeance attack” strikes against leadership targets, is silly. The walls are restrains not punishment. It doesn’t bother me that the Israelis might seek vengeance against a leadership seeking vengeance in every attack and action.

    You go on to illuminate the fact that the blockade also includes a naval component. As if this might be news. Of course it does and has since the PLO started trying to insert teams seeking to indiscriminately kill settlers by way of the sea. The Israeli navy has been fairly successful in this undertaking.

    Then there is the blockade. As if it was one thing and didn’t tighten and loosen to try to control the violence. The blockade is full of holes big enough to deliver missiles through. If the Palestinians were less bent upon violence and more interested in strawberries they could easily smuggle in strawberries given that strawberries are not thirty feet long and come in increments somewhat smaller than 1000 pounds. Of course Gaza used to grow strawberries. But there is little time for growing fruit when there are rockets and tunnels to build so you can get on with the divine mandate to murder Jews.

    It is also revealing that you seem to think this is a Israeli blockade instead of a combined Israeli/Egyptian blockade. The simple fact is that the Palestinians have made a lifestyle out of reinforcing their victimisation by supporting horrible and violent regimes. Regimes that do everything possible to visit death, destruction and religious extremism upon everyone near them. Egypt tried to help them but were repaid with the violence of the Muslim Brotherhood. Much as the Israelis have been repaid for every compromise with more violence. They give up the land but got no peace. I think they might want to retake the land. At least under Israeli occupation, real occupation, there were fewer rockets.

    Of course the other ostensibly friendly Arab nations have no use for Palestinians. The single largest loss was inflicted upon them by Jordanians, not Israelis. There again Jordan was attempting to help the Palestinians when the Palestinians tried to take over. It is a frequent theme as greenhouses in Gaza were destroyed for the metals that could be used to make weapons and cooperative fishing arrangements, beneficial to both sides, were abandoned because cooperating instead of attacking set a bad example for the kids. Having Israeli fishermen near the Palestinian fisherman also made smuggling weapons more difficult.

    Of course Palestinians are not just reviled for indiscriminate violence by Israelis. No Arab nation treats Palestinians very well. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Quatar, and Kuwait all treat the Palestinians as slave labor. In the early 70s Saudi Arabia complained that they needed more people to prosper and had a ban on birth control that might still be in place. Land, wealth and a desire for more people might suggest bringing the Palestinians into Saudi Arabia as a solution but Palestinians made citizen in SA would make employing them as slave labor, or using the Palestinian/Israeli conflict to align their domestic population, a long favored tactic for quelling domestic rebellion, problematic. SA is not unique in the tendency to trot out the conflict as distraction for citizen angered by ham-handed and ineffectual leaders.

    All that just scratches the surface of what is wrong.

    The only way out for the Palestinians is to renounce violence, disarm, and formalize acceptance of Israel’s right too exist. Failure to accept that last part is essentially a declaration of a desire to commit genocide. Fulfill those basic points and show a commitment to them over a significant amount of time and the Palestinians would have their state.

    Of course, none of that will happen because Palestinians, based upon the leadership they tolerate and vote for, hate Jews more than they love their children. Nothing new there. Yasser Arafat made that clear when he declared he would use “population bomb”, total war in military parlance, to destroy Israel.

  73. anat says

    To laurentweppe (#70):

    Sinai was an important source of oil, including fields at Abu-Rodeis that were already developed pre-1967 and the fields in Almah that were developed bu Israel. It was predicted in the late 70s that Israel could have become energy self-sufficient had it retained control of Sinai.

  74. rossthompson says

    The only way out for the Palestinians is to renounce violence, disarm, and formalize acceptance of Israel’s right too exist. Failure to accept that last part is essentially a declaration of a desire to commit genocide.

    Does Israel also have to formalize acceptance of Palestine’s right to exist? Is their failure to accept that also essentially a declaration of a desire to commit genocide?

  75. zenlike says

    Lorn

    Of course, none of that will happen because Palestinians, based upon the leadership they tolerate and vote for, hate Jews more than they love their children.

    Fuck you lorn, you racist piece of shit.

  76. AlexanderZ says

    laurentweppe #70:
    In addition to anat’s #81 answer: Sinai is key to controlling the Suez canal. This was the entire premise of the 1956 war, with Israel being backed by UK and France (while Egypt got Soviet support).


    Marcus Ranum #77:

    I’ve been on this forum since the scienceblogs days and what you describe as “common courtesy” is anything but “common”

    Then I’d like to direct you to the “Commenting Rules” to the right. Section VI, titled “Courtesies”.

    I point out that resentment against immigration, when it’s taking place, is more likely to be the underlying cause of violence than religion and you say “not always”

    For the last time, I wasn’t talking about religion – Saad was! Saad!! Did that come through?!

    I have a sneaking suspicion you’re substituting “identity” for racism/tribalism, which I reject.

    If that’s how you prefer it, fine. Call it “tribalism”. My point is that while you may reject it, it’s still strong enough to shape relations and dictate which deaths are sufficiently “offensive” to justify an endless conflict and which could be talked-over; what land must be fought forever and what could be given away in a peace treaty (sometimes not even that much, the same Olmert who was keen on going to war with Hizballah and Gaza decided on a whim to give property in central Jerusalem to Russia, even though USSR sold that land).

    the entire dialogue about a “two state solution” is about land not religion. The dialogue about who controls Jerusalem is about land primarily and secondarily about religion
    Next are you going to say there’s no history of violence, either? ;)

    *headdesk*

    As far as expresing doubt about your intentions, maybe you should try a little intellectual honesty instead of carefully cherry-picking historical ‘facts’ in such an obvious manner.

    That’s rich. You keep confusing me with someone else and then claim it’s my fault that you don’t understand what I’m saying.

    I’ve been insulting you? Excuse me, did I say I wouldn’t? Are you now asking me to be more careful of your feeling-weelings, because, why? If I had signed up to be careful of your feelings, I would. But I’ve never given a shit about them and I never will, so complain away – it’s a poor substitute for having a point.

    Your empathy is noted. Sorry to infringe on your ‘free speech’ or whatever.
    Besides, that never was my point, just a remark – you keep mixing up my point with that of someone else!

    First, one has to confront the reality of the mistake.

    Good point and thank you for the answer.

  77. laurentweppe says

    Sinai was an important source of oil, including fields at Abu-Rodeis that were already developed pre-1967 and the fields in Almah that were developed bu Israel. It was predicted in the late 70s that Israel could have become energy self-sufficient had it retained control of Sinai.

    followed by

    In addition to anat’s #81 answer: Sinai is key to controlling the Suez canal. This was the entire premise of the 1956 war, with Israel being backed by UK and France (while Egypt got Soviet support).

    Yeah, right: the tiny reserves in SInai (7% of Egyptian oil) would totally have made the occupation of the peninsula, building a maginot line along the Suez Canal eastern shores and the fury of Western Europe over the decades-long closing of trade through the canal worthwhile: kinda like how Iraq’s invasion “paid for itself”.

    One would think that people would have come to realize that raubwirtschaft doesn’t work in our modern globalized world, but apparently the world is still filled with armchair generals who believe that playing conqueror is easy and fun.

    And I’m not simply talking about the nincompoops commenting here: the fact that a good chunk of Israel’s ruling and chattering classes genuinely believed this bullshit only further demonstrate that, once again, being ruled by inept dimwits and depending on western leniency and financial support to soften the impact of their self-destructive whims is not a recent development.

  78. says

    lorn = Hasbara
    Pretty sure some others too.
    The fact that he pretty much simply parrots the IDF’s talking points gives it away. Also the way he deliberately mixes up the West Bank with Gaza, and PLO with Hamas, as if it were all the same. And, last but not least, the fact that beyond all the rethoric ,he provides absolutely no evidence for his assertions.
    Arguing with them is probably even less useful than with your garden variety troll.