More death and destruction

I’ve had my head down wrapping up my grading for the semester, and I look up and see…Israel has murdered over 60 Palestinian protesters this week. 60. Israeli snipers just gunned down human beings who were protesting their oppression.

And what triggered this latest round of violence? Among other things, Trump pointlessly decided to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, ignoring the tangled complex history of the place. Ivanka and Jared Kushner celebrated with Netanyahu in the courtyard while tanks rolled through Palestinian slums. The US brought in Robert Jeffress and John Hagee to bring an appropriate piety to the event — Jeffress and Hagee are notorious anti-semitic bigots who only want to inflame the Middle East to bring about their hateful prophecy that ends with all Jews dead or converted. (By the way, Trump also appointed gay-hating bigot Tony Perkins to head the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom…all the best people.)

Israel can get away with this because the US is an unquestioning supporter of all the evil that their country does. It’s time to take away the carte blanche — the US could be a force for change in Israeli policy, if we had the will, and if we could get rid of the self-appointed holy men who are trying to trigger Armageddon.

But also — Trump and his advisors once again reveal themselves to be bungling incompetents. It’s not hard to imagine a craftier kind of evil that got their way in the Middle East with some subtlety. That is not Trump. Trump is the wild boar, rotten and corrupt, stupidly raging through the world.


  1. says

    National Pubic Radio had the U.S. ambassador to Israel on yesterday morning. When the interviewer noted that the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as their capital and consider it their land as well, he said no, it belongs to the Jews because the Bible says so. Yes, this is literally the position of the United States government.

    As a matter of fact, in Genesis 15, “17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

    That means God gave Abram all of what is today Syria and Jordan, and most of Iraq. We’ll see if they want to assert this claim as well.

  2. Saad says

    The US doesn’t oppose attacking Palestinian protesters because the US doesn’t oppose attacking its own black and Indian protesters.

  3. says


    Only 59 protesters

    You need to think about what you wrote, and what you think. Only? Yeah, that’s nice.

  4. whywhywhy says

    So what did the US get for this? Or is Trump truly the worst dealmaker of all time?

  5. whywhywhy says

    Oh, and by ‘this’ I am referring to the horrid human carnage that the IDF is carrying out as a continuation of the repression of Palestinians.

    Maybe this is the answer, Trump and company want the human carnage.

  6. says

    Trump gets little ‘attaboys’ and pats on the head for carrying out the yearnings of the Christianists who are determined to push God into carrying out the prophecies that others of their ilk came up with about a century ago. Their faction is not necessarily huge, but they do reward people here on Earth who do what they want, and Trump’s all about being rewarded here on Earth, either in money or in egoboo.

  7. F.O. says

    I can’t deal with humanity any more.
    And we’ll have Very Serious Rationalists explaining very calmly and very rationally why all of this is ok.
    Reality is big and difficult and we’re too stupid and too petty.
    Which is probably by design. “Go away, hide in a corner, let us continue our slaughter unhindered”.
    I feel so fucking powerless.

  8. consciousness razor says

    Only 59 protesters at most

    No, “60” was just rounded down from apparently 62 or so. Plus, there are thousands of injured (about 2700 is what I heard), and for all we know, some may not survive their injuries, so it could definitely be more.

  9. Holms says

    “And what triggered this latest round of violence?”

    Well you see, the Palestinians protested their getting shot at and their imprisonment, which means they pose a clear and present danger to Israel. They tried to damage the wall that keeps them imprisoned! And they threw rocks at the people that shoot them!

    The only solution to this despicable Gazan behaviour is obvious – keep them imprisoned, and shoot them some more.

    But not sarcastic at all, in a way – there truly are people that believe the protest against being imprisoned and murdered proves the ‘necessity’ of keeping them imprisoned, and justifies the next wave of murder.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    from the context, it is obvious numerobis is being sarcastic.
    – – –
    This horror is already being overtaken by another scandal: the Chinese bought off Trump with a 500 million loan to a project down in southeast asia somewhere (I have not memorised the details as things are moving too fast).
    In return, Trump is turning off the sanctions against a big Chinese telecom company that was caught violating the Iran sanctions back in 2012. Because -as Trump tweeted- too many Chinese jobs have been lost.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Another day in Trumpland.
    Ed Brayton’s blog reveals the federal authorities have lost hundreds of children that were separated from immigrants taken into custody.
    They literally do not know where the children have been placed.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    BTW no point memorising every detail, the horror pipeline makes it impossible to keep up.
    – – –
    The congress Republicans know if they don’t say anything no one will recall their failure to condemn Trump as each issue will be swept from public attention by the next one.

  13. blf says

    In America’s news headlines, Palestinians die mysterious deaths:

    Judging by some stories, it’s almost as if bullets just hang in the air, waiting for Palestinians to walk deliberately into them

    It is the peculiar fate of oppressed people everywhere that when they are killed, they are killed twice: first by bullet or bomb, and next by the language used to describe their deaths. A common condition of oppression, after all, is to be blamed for being the victim, and that blame gets meted out in language designed to rob the oppressed of their very struggle.

    Such a situation has for decades been the tragic destiny of the Palestinians, who are themselves so routinely assigned the blame when they are killed by Israel — and not just by the Israeli government but by the American media and political establishment — that we have now basically come to expect it.


    Consider the headlines. On Monday, the Israeli military killed more than 60 protesters in Gaza. The deadly violence was one-sided — no Israelis were killed — and disproportionate. In the midst of the carnage, the New York Times sent out a tweet about its story on the bloody events. “Dozens of Palestinians have died in protests as the US prepares to open its Jerusalem Embassy,” read the tweet.

    Have died? Really? We should note how the passive voice in this tweet hides the one performing the action, which is exactly what passive voice constructions can do. In this tweet, Israel is assigned no responsibility for killing protesters. On the contrary, Palestinians appear, simply and almost mysteriously, to “have died”.


    To be fair to the New York Times, the headline in Tuesday’s physical paper […] was much clearer. “Israelis Kill Dozens in Gaza,” it read, though one is still left wondering who these “Israelis” are. Wouldn’t “Israel” be a more accurate noun? The military represents the state, after all, and not individual citizens.

    But the Times is hardly alone in these obfuscating headlines. […]

    The Wall Street Journal has a video on its website with the headline “Clashes Over New US Embassy in Jerusalem Leave Dozens Dead”. Frankly, this headline is even worse than the others. To label this massacre as “clashes” is not only disingenuous but also grossly misleading, as is the idea that the Palestinians were only protesting against the new US embassy in Jerusalem. […]

    And then there’s the ever-present “leave dozens dead” in the headline, which again tells us nothing about who shot whom, suggesting instead that “clashes” rather than people kill while insinuating that Palestinians are, once again, basically responsible for their own slaughter.

    It’s almost as if bullets just hang in the air, waiting for Palestinians to walk deliberately into them.

    Headlines like these are the journalistic equivalent of US ambassador Nikki Haley telling the UN’s security council that no country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has. Such language works not only to buffer Israel from criticism but also and more fundamentally to shield Israel from accountability.


    Over 70 years ago, George Orwell wrote that modern political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable”. […]

    The current Grauniad headline is Global protests grow after Israeli killing of Palestinian demonstrators, which seems Ok except for the “Israeli” with either needs a “military” or should be “Israel”. However, their video report obfuscates, Palestinians killed as US opens embassy in Jerusalem (video) albeit the description is good: “Israeli forces have killed at least 58 Palestinians and injured more than 1,200 during protests on the Gaza side of the border with Israel. It marks the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 war. In a video message played at the US embassy opening ceremony, Donald Trump said: The United States remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement.”

  14. microraptor says

    @15: They can’t even muster up the outrage to tell Dump off for what he said about McCain, who used to be highly respected by Republicans.

  15. ionopachys says

    At least one liberal Israeli believes that the U.S. couldn’t do much to stop this. She thinks the Israeli populace is too radicalized and Americans overestimate their nation’s ability to effect Israel’s policies.

    I’ve said this before and have gotten pushback, but it remains true: the people in whose hands the future of this part of the world lies are not Americans or Palestinians, but Israelis. And that’s a very bad thing….The younger generation is, if anything, more racist, more right-wing, less invested in democratic norms and institutions….The problem is that the voters don’t want another path, and I don’t see a solution for that.

    Not that we should sit back and condone the occupation, but if she’s right, it’s vain to think that we could put a stop to Israel’s bad policies if we just tried.

  16. unclefrogy says

    Not that we should sit back and condone the occupation, but if she’s right, it’s vain to think that we could put a stop to Israel’s bad policies if we just tried.

    it does seem that every time there appears to be some action that might be a positive step toward peace there are more deaths which put a stop to any such movement toward peace.
    well of course there was going to be some demonstrations with the opening of the new embassy and the IDF was going to kill some of them just to show that they would never surrender. There are it seems enough on each side who think they have a “final solution” to keep this shit going indefinably.

    uncle frogy

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    ionopachys @ # 18: … if she’s right, it’s vain to think that we could put a stop to Israel’s bad policies if we just tried.

    Suppose “we” (the US) shaved, say, $10M from our annual “aid” to Israel for each civilian they killed.

    Do you really think the body count would stay unchanged?

    The current US regime, of course, seems more likely to increase the payments for each Palestinian murdered – though prospective-president Pence would probably try to make it more biblical by demanding a pile of prepuces.

  18. johnlee says

    I’m not American, and I’m not very keen on telling other people what to do, but please, please please get rid of this awful President.

  19. Oggie. says


    I’m not American, and I’m not very keen on telling other people what to do, but please, please please get rid of this awful President.

    Unfortunately, removing the criminal from the White House would, most likely, make things far worse. Pence is more radical than Trump. He is a right-wing evangelical Christian whose ideal United States would be something along the lines of Iran (but with Christian pastors picking the candidates rather than Mullahs). And, worst of all, he has spent enough time in government that he actually has a clue as to how government works, how it is supposed to work, and how to do really evil things legally. Of course, if we can also get rid of Pence, right now that would give us Ryan, who is a Libertarian extremist who knows how government is supposed to work.

  20. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    I realize this is a minor point in the current context, but it’s also a pet peeve. From the Guardian article that blf quoted above:

    In the midst of the carnage, the New York Times sent out a tweet about its story on the bloody events. “Dozens of Palestinians have died in protests as the US prepares to open its Jerusalem Embassy,” read the tweet.
    Have died? Really? We should note how the passive voice in this tweet hides the one performing the action, which is exactly what passive voice constructions can do.

    The passive voice is not used in that tweet. “Die” is intransitive and is never used in the passive voice. As written, the tweet doesn’t evoke an agent as a passive construction would (e.g., “Dozens of Palestinians were killed”).

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

    @Pierce R. Butler

    Suppose “we” (the US) shaved, say, $10M from our annual “aid” to Israel for each civilian they killed.

    For better or worse, most of our annual aid to Israel is required by Senate-confirmed treaties following on to the Camp David Accords. Israel is a rich enough nation we don’t need to provide general aid. The treaties pursuant to the general framework of the Camp David Accords specify that a certain amount of money be given to Israel for its defense with an identical amount of money being split between Egypt & Jordan (IIRC).

    Now, those treaties don’t specify that we have to sell them any particular weapon, but it does grant them monies that are to be used to buy US weapons. If we cut the amount below that required by treaty, we’re screwed. But we could invite them to buy all the F-35s they want without permitting export of any anti-personnel weaponry. The subsequent treaties have been modified many, many times, especially the particular dollar amounts given to each country, though as i understand it the limitation that military aid to Jordan + Egypt be kept equal in amount to military aid to Israel either still exists or exists modified by including aid to Syria (so the amount given to Israel is split among 3 Arab nations and not 2). It’s also possible that this has been prorated, so that J + E = 90% of I, or some such, but I don’t think that’s true. It would have caused a huge outcry and been considered a violation of the underlying principles of the CDA. Since I don’t remember that, I think that the limitation still exists.

    If I’m right that most of the aid to Israel is still required by these treaties, then cutting them isn’t much of an option. Where we have a lot more discretion is in choosing which weapons we’re willing to sell.

    The problem here is that the weapons that are killing the most Palestinians are not the most expensive weapons, and the most expensive weapons are ones that really are necessary for national security in a nation where their neighbors really do include a sizable percentage of persons who would be willing to go to war to wipe out Israel. So if we granted export of 4th & 5th gen fighters but denied export of sniper rifles, Israel wouldn’t have any free money to spend on sniper rifles, but could easily afford however many they want out of their own national budget. The ability to influence Israel significantly through that process is, I imagine, slim. Though perhaps with enough national will a US administration could block all sales of necessary and expensive weapon systems for long enough to gain important concessions. It hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not knowledgeable enough on military matters to know what risks would be run while doing it. In the meantime, though, we’d have to send them literally billions of dollars worth of less-expensive systems (the kinds that are actually killing Palestinians) in order to keep our treaty commitments.

    Not that Trump cares about treaty commitments, of course, but he’s not going to be the one to care about Palestinian deaths either.

  22. William Webb says

    Remember that Israel is an apartheid state that murdered 34 US sailors aboard the USS Liberty and has murdered many other US citizens including Rachel Corrie.

  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    Crip Dyke @ # 25: …most of our annual aid to Israel is required by Senate-confirmed treaties following on to the Camp David Accords.

    It seems slightly possible that Jimmy Carter could have slipped in some boilerplate human-rights/international-law clauses that Israel’s butchery violates, but I don’t recall seeing anything about that in even the flood of pro-Palestinian-rights advocacy emails I receive. Given that Trump-Pence care even less than Carter about human rights, international law, or treaty obligations, the point seems moot for those of us unable to afford the legal leverage to get any of this into court.

    Maybe some Palestinians could found a Gaza chapter of the NRA…

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


    The treaty structure is horribly complicated because the CDAs are only broad principles, then they are enacted through follow-on treaties, then those treaties are amended. The amendments oftentimes focus on the need to update the dollar amounts to account for inflation but also for the changing situations of Israel, Egypt & Jordan. Because Israel is wealthier, the same dollar amounts do more (as a percentage) benefit for E & J, so they generally aren’t opposed to seeing the dollar amount increase. However, each country is interested in the other countries’ purchases as well, and that becomes just one focus of many in the resulting renegotiations.

    Really, you can be an expert in international law generally and still not have any idea what the CDA-framework treaties currently require of each party today since things have changed so many times.

    I wouldn’t know where to begin if i was concerned about a treaty violation. But besides that, it’s unlikely that anyone other than a party to the treaties can bring a civil action to enforce CDA-framework treaties. That means that if you don’t officially represent the government of the USA or Israel or Egypt or Jordan, you’re most likely SOL.

  25. says

    Sharpeville: 1960
    Gaza: 2018

    Unarmed protestors brutally shot by a repressive murderous regime in both cases.

    Why isn’t the west pursuing sanctions against this rogue state as we did against South Africa?

  26. Pierce R. Butler says

    Crip Dyke @ # 28 – I’m not, and we are.

    Andy Geth @ # 29 – How long did it take between the Sharpeville massacre and US sanctions?

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

    @Andy Geth:

    While Israel has done many, many unforgivably violent things in Gaza and the West Bank, the international community is well aware that Israel isn’t interested in territorial expansion beyond the West Bank (not even in Gaza). On the other hand, Syria and Egypt, among others, have launched wars of aggression against Israel. And when they did, Israel kicked their asses. Hard.

    So if you’re the ruler of an Arab nation in the region, you might use a lot of very heated, horribly anti-semitic rhetoric against Jews and Israelis generally and the Israeli government specifically, but there’s probably a line you don’t want to cross for fear of being seen as actually starting a war or intending to. If you convince the Israelis that you intend to launch a war, chances are good the IDF is going to be coming for you with a lot of very high-tech, precision-guided hardware. Also, possibly with thermonuclear weapons. Don’t forget that.

    So the Arab states are conditioned not to press too hard, knowing that the risk from Israel as long as they aren’t seen as launching a war is next to nothing (Israel isn’t launching wars that way), but the risk from Israel if you are seen as launching a war is catastrophic, and probably more than your military can handle.

    Sure, they treat their Palestinian population like shit. Yes, they engage in violence all the time. But matters internal to Israel are for Israel, and they wouldn’t like it if we took a hard line on how they treat Coptics or Sufis or Witches or, y’know, women. So the governments with the most antipathy tend to walk a balanced line, never calling for a full boycott because Israel is dependent on imported food and a true embargo would reasonably be seen as a threat to common Israelis and thus tantamount to war (if not actually war, which is also one possibility for how it might be perceived).

    Europe wields disproportionate power on the International stage, but there’s still a lot of collective guilt over the Holocaust. Russia has been anti-semitic since forever, and is always encouraging Russian jews to emigrate. Without a stable, safe Israel, there would be nowhere to push their jews towards. Asia or Latin America might be able to push without too many consequences, but Latin America is still unreasonably dependent on US aid, and Israel has a powerful lobby in D.C. Asia simply doesn’t care that much, and though they would probably rally around Arab states that wanted to kick up a fuss, as previously mentioned Arab states are only willing to push things so far.

    With South Africa, they were repeating sins of the United States, so there were a great many people who were willing to apply the lessons that they had recently learned to aid Black folks in SA. With Israel, the mistake of Europeans is anti-semitism, and so taking sides against Israel, especially (but not only) when there really are a large number of Palestinians and other Arabs that are pissed enough to physically fight the IDF (even to launch wars against Israel) seems on the surface to be recommitting the same sin, rather than learning from it.

    In that sense, it was easier for the US to commit its outsize international power against SA (and truthfully Reagan wouldn’t even do that, but US individuals and corporations did) in a struggle that allowed the US to paint itself as having learned its lesson and doing the right thing now. Even though aiding the powerless against the violence of the powerful is always the right thing, it’s harder for the Europeans to make the argument that acting against Israel’s violence is consistent with what they’ve learned from their own past sins. Don’t get me wrong, I think you can make that argument; I think that argument is in fact successful. But it doesn’t translate to soundbites and slogans as easily, and therefore takes more work to reach a place of mass mobilization against Israeli violence.

    If the Palestinian protestors were ***even more*** non-violent, it might be easier for the world to see that protecting Israel’s borders does not mean turning a blind eye to Israel’s violence in Gaza, the West Bank, and even in its own territory. But honestly, I don’t think the problem is the protestors. I’m perfectly capable of condemning all violence while also saying that when prioritizing responses it makes sense to prioritize ending the bombing of Gaza over ending the practice of lighting a kite’s tail on fire, setting it on the breeze until it’s high enough to float over the border fence, then cutting the string.

    The problem is us. We have to wrestle genuinely with our anti-semitism, our anti-Arab prejudices, and the reality of the violence and potential violence on the ground. I have little faith that there will be a mass movement towards accountability that can end all this violence unless and until the people who care do the hard work of putting together carefully targeted proposals that simultaneously do not require an appreciation of nuance to understand. Because of this, as horribly sad as it makes me, I think that solutions are actually more likely to originate with residents of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank than they are to originate in the UN or in other international fora.