Friday, January 9, 2009

Bit more on Israel "the victim"

The US philosopher whom I chided (scroll down) for his claim that "I am pretty sure Hamas is the bad guy here, while Israel, as so often in history, is the victim" responded to the chiding. Here's my reply, just for your interest...

Hi XXX

You are quite right that Hamas' official policy is to target civilians whereas Israel's is not. I didn't get your illustration concerning the crowd - I think there's a word or two gone astray? Anyway, my view is we should be condemning both sides, and that Israel is is very much culpable. I pointed out some very salient facts that put a different complexion on things (e.g. Israel broke the ceasefire, not Hamas, and Hamas is responding to Israel's crippling economic blockade imposed in response to the election result, etc.). The point you make here doesn't really undermine my point that Israel is hardly the (even comparatively) innocent victim, let alone the innocent victim "yet again."

By failing to condemn what Israel has done, the West actually contributes to the problem. It increases the frustration of Palestinians, who get even more extreme. The situation is a - the - root cause of Islamic bitterness. The West's insistence on always excusing Israeli and blaming Arabs will produce further terrorist attacks around the world.

I favour condemning both sides, BUT while focusing more on a positive solution. This could be a two state solution with Israel back within its pre-67 borders. I'd consider that fair, or at least acceptable. So would the Palestinians. So would Hamas, who are already offering it, in effect, by offering a 30, 40 or 50 year ceasefire if Israel withdraws to those borders (consider that their opening negotiating position). So there is no real obstacle to such a solution - it could be pursued right now. Commentators who (i) condemn only one side (that's you, not me) , and (ii) fail positively to mention or push for such a solution, are part of the problem here.

If your example about the crowd is supposed to excuse Israel's behaviour in Gaza, well here's an analogy. Suppose that after a few IRA attacks leaving 11 Brits dead, the British Government invaded Catholic areas of Northern Ireland with tanks and air strikes, seeking out IRA members and arms caches, but killing over a thousand innocent Catholic by-standers in the process. What would have been the world's opinion about that? And would this military action have been constructive, do you think?

best
Stephen

59 comments:

Sam Norton said...

Stephen, so far as I am aware it was not the stated policy of the IRA to end the existence of the British state. For the analogy to work, the IRA would have had to have wanted to either eliminate or convert all Protestants living in Great Britain.

Also, do you really believe that Islamic bitterness is a consequence of Israel's existence? It's a factor, surely, but the hatred of the West has much deeper roots than that, which pre-date the establishment of Israel (eg with Wahabism (sp?))

Stephen Law said...

That's a difference between the two cases I grant you, but not that significant a difference given that while Hamas' official position is the removal of Israel, it is clear they will indeed settle for a two viable state solution.

I do think that Islamic bitterness is currently fed to a very significant extent by this issue, yes. It was cited by the organizer of the WTC attack as THE reason for the attack. Of course, you may say he was lying....

In fact, I seem to remember are also polls among Muslims which consistently cite Israel and the plight of the Palestinians as the major irritant. Chomsky mentions some in his chpt in my book.

There maybe older roots, of course. That doesn't make them the major root of today's bitterness.

Anonymous said...

Is it clear that Hamas would settle? How can we tell?

There seems to be a substantial body of opinion that says that if Hamas is given an inch, they will take a mile, and the rocket attacks will increase with enthusiasm because they will feel they are winning. And that this wouldn't stop before Israel was destroyed.

How can we tell which view is correct? Or do both views exist within Hamas, in which case which would prevail?

anticant said...

Stephen - I lost interest in, and patience with, your prudently anonymous American correspondent when he said: "I don’t care about any lobby."

If he is not aware of, or concerned about, the Zionist/AIPAC stranglehold on Washington politics, his views are not worth a fig. I don't know why you bother arguing with him.

As for the rights and wrongs of the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, wrangling over who is to blame, or who started what first, is futile. The only relevant concern of all genuinely humanitarian parties should be to do everything possible to first reduce, and then end, the violence.

Personally, I think it is highly unlikely that there will be anything resembling genuine peace in the region for many years to come, because the respective contestants have such a visceral loathing for each other that leaving them to slug it out while imposing an effective arms embargo would be the most sensible course - one which won't happen, because there is far too much profit for Western and Russian arms manufacturers in keeping up the level of violence and, if possible, escalating it.

The fate of the Palestinian and Israeli civilians caught in the crossfire doesn't matter a damn to these ghastly people.

Stephen Law said...

Hi anon

Well the fact that there have been negotiated ceasefires with Hamas suggest you can deal with them. Note that Hamas stuck to the ceasefire - Israel broke it.

I am sure there is a body of opinion in Israel that says give Hamas an inch and they will take a mile, but what is the evidence that this is true?

Moreoever, if that's the attitude to anyone who is, or could become, violent, it becomes a permanent obstacle to any negotiated settlement, does it not?

If Israel will only negotiate with committed pacifists, well, that's not just unrealistic, it's an insurmountable obstacle to peace. It also raises the question - if the Palestinians give up violent resistance, what else have the Palestinians got left to negotiate with (non-violent resistance, perhaps, but note that Israel has dealt brutally with that, historically, too)?

If Hamas offers, as it has, e.g. a 50 year ceasefire if Israel offers a Palestinian state by moving back to its pre-67 borders, that's at least worth exploring, is it not?

Actually, I think that's the only solution. Like many people, I'd consider that a fair deal for Israel. I suspect the real obstacle here is that Israel will never agree to anything except an enlarged, greater Israel. But perhaps I'm too cynical...

Anonymous said...

Stephen,

Israel forcibly removed settlements from the Gaza strip in 2005. And now it is used as a base for rocket attacks. Give an inch.

I hear differing claims over who broke the ceasefire. How am I supposed to decide between them?

I am not going to argue the toss over the burden of proof. I share your cynicism of Israeli motives, but you do not seem to share mine of Hamas' motives. Why not? Are Hamas fundamentally a different kind of people?

Stephen Law said...

"Give an inch and they will take a mile" means, I take it, that any concessions will actually cause greater violence/demands, right? But the removal of settlements is not what provoked the rocket attacks. The punitive blockade seems to be the main cause of that. So I don't see how the facts about settlement removal supports your point.

Don't get me wrong - I am not saying Hams are an entirely honest and trustworthy bunch of boy scouts(!) But I see no reason not to negotiate with them. In fact negotiations with groups like Hamas seems unavoidable if we want an ultimately peaceful solution.

Stephen Law said...

Maybe I should add, re. "Are Hamas fundamentally a different kind of people?" my point is that they are not, so if its acceptable to negotiate with Israel, then it's acceptable to negotiate with Hamas - right?

Or is it you that's saying they are fundamentally different - Israel being basically trustworthy, Hamas not?

anticant said...

"If WE want an ultimately peaceful solution."

But do THEY?

There are only three roads to the end of any conflict:

A: Total victory - unconditional surrender;

B: A negotiated settlement genuinely sought by both sides;

C: An end to hostilities effectively imposed by a superior third [outside} force.

I see little prospect of any of these at the present time. So what do those of us who deplore the violence do?

Kosh3 said...

"It was cited by the organizer of the WTC attack as THE reason for the attack."

Certainly it was one reason, but one alongside others cited as well: Somalia, supported Russian atrocities in Chechnya, Indian oppression in Kashmir, Jewish aggression in Lebanon, the stealing of the wealth of the ummah, the starvation of Iraqi children.

I grant that it is a significant reason for Muslim discontent, but it is not the only one.

Kosh3 said...

edit: (by Al Qaeda)

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the ongoing anonymity, it is not usually my thing.

I'm not suggesting that there should be no negotiations, indeed there should be. Although if there is peace with Hamas, doubtless hardliners will splinter off and form new pro-war organisations.

Is there a reference on the net anywhere to the actual terms of this ceasefire?

My pro-Israeli source alleges that a) Hamas was using the ceasefire period to smuggle in and build up stocks of rockets, and
b) there were anyway only 12 days out of 6 months of the ceasefire when no rockets or mortars were fired into Israel.

The wording is slightly tangential which leads me to suspect that it was in fact Israel's breach, but the devil is in the details.

But if it seems that the factor limiting the total rockets fired in the long run is not whether there is currently a ceasefire, but the rate at which they can be imported, then steps to address the imports are understandable.


I take anticant's point. There are hawks and doves on both sides of the concrete. At the moment the hawks are winning because they are good at turning enemy doves into hawks, with violence.

We can be glad this is not still happening between French and Germans in Alsace. What's the difference? The losers surrendered each time. Worked out pretty well.

Kosh3 said...

Is it morally proper to negotiate with terrorists? Obama has said he will not talk with Hamas until they renounce terrorism (no mention of them having to renounce violence).

anticant said...

Whatever the public rhetoric, you always DO have to negotiate with "terrorists" in the end, as the British did in Cyprus, Northern Ireland - and Palestine. That is just one reason why the Bush-Blair so-called "war on terror" is so immoral.

Numerically, there are always many more doves than hawks in any conflict. The great bulk of the civilian population do not wish to terrorise, or be terrorised by, their neighbours/"enemies". But they are brainwashed by the aggressive/paranoid minority of hawks into believing that there is no alternative because their survival is at stake.

The problem here, as in so much political life, is how to stop small tails wagging large dogs.

How, for instance, to stop the small tail of Zionist hawks wagging the much more massive American electorate?

anticant said...

On a more general point, one of the endemic problems of the current world situation is the high level of passive tolerance of violence – international, social, and domestic – and the failure of majority opinion to mobilize more effectively against it.

One of the causes, I think, is the ubiquity of violence portrayed on television, both as news and as entertainment. People – especially young people – have become habituated to it as a normal part of life.

More than a year ago some concerned blogging friends and I posted the following “global petition against violence” on the internet. So far, it has only attracted just over 50 signatures!

To: Citizens of the World
Declaration Against Violence

We the undersigned call upon our fellow world citizens to join us in doing everything in our power to reduce the prevailing level of global violence, and to seek the resolution of all conflicts by peaceful means.

We do not believe that the promoters of hatred and the practitioners of violence [whether in the name of countries or causes] are supported by the great mass of humanity. Their behaviour, under whatever pretext, is immoral and intolerable. We abhor their activities, and deplore the amount of publicity given to them as well as the unhealthy depiction and glorification of fictional violence in so much ‘entertainment’.

We believe that the great majority of human beings, whatever their country or creed, are good-hearted peace-loving people like ourselves, who wish for an end to violence in personal, domestic, public, and international affairs.

We urge all those holding responsible positions in politics, government, and the media to pledge themselves to do their utmost to achieve a more peaceful world through discussion and negotiation, and to renounce violence as an instrument of policy.

We ask all those in agreement with this statement to sign it, and to pass it on to others requesting them to do so.


Note: This Declaration has been launched by private citizens of several countries, with the aim of gathering worldwide support from as many peace-loving non-violent people as are willing to sign it. The Declaration is not sponsored by any organisation, and your signature commits you to nothing except endorsement of the above text. No copyright is claimed. There is no limit to the number of signatures we seek. We ask you to publicise the Declaration in every legitimate way you can and to urge others to sign. Tell all your family, friends, and colleagues. Post the link on your website. Help to create a publicity snowball for humanity’s demand that violence must stop.

If you would like to sign the petition, you can do so here:

http://www.petitiononline.com/John1948/petition-sign.html

Kosh3 said...

The lack of signatures on your petition can easily be explained in other ways: a) publicity of that particular petition, b) availability of thousands of others like it in other places, and c) pessimism about the value of such petitions in affecting meaningful change.

I remember being asked to add my signature to a letter of protest to be sent to Mugabe years ago for his policies. I signed, but mostly out of courtesy to the person who had asked me. I remember thinking that it was little more than a waste of paper.

Eric said...

I think we have to ask why so many people in the Arab world would be happy with the pre-67 borders, and why Israel might not.

The pre-67 borders would require Israel to give up the Golan Heights, which is a vital position because of its strategic importance (roughly 4,000 feet above the Hula valley in northern Israel), and because of the access it grants to one of Israel's main water supplies (roughly 40%). Also, the pre-67 borders (which did not include the West Bank) left Israel only *9 miles across* at its center. Imagine how attractive that prospect is from a military point of view!

Given that the pre-67 borders leave Israel extremely vulnerable to attack, which must be considered along with the fact that Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors, one would have to be crazy to think that pre-67 is acceptable.

anticant said...

If enough people signed this and similar petitions, they would carry more weight than a mere piece of paper.

It speaks volumes for contemporary mores that on the same site there were also two opposing petitions which attracted many thousands of signatures each on the important [?] topic of whether or not Paris Hilton should be sent to prison, and another with over 2 million signatures about preserving the blue whale in the South Pacific.

I grant you that mass political protest seems to be a thing of the past - certainly since Tony Blair ignored the 2-million-strong march against the Iraq war - and as one who remembers the era of CND and the Aldermaston marches I find this deplorable and depressing.

Politics, after all, should be at least partly shaped by public conscience, which is why it's important - remembering Bertrand Russell's example - for philosophers to descend sometimes from their abstract ivory towers into the murky market place.

Paul P. Mealing said...

I support Stephen on this. I remember hearing an interview with a politician (I can't remember her name) when she visited Australia a number of years ago. I think she was in Blair's cabinet at some stage, and she talked about the negotiations in Ireland, in which she played some role apparently.

Anyway, what I remember her emphasising (the only thing I remember, in fact) which made perfect sense to me, is the need to talk to your enemies, otherwise it's just conflict without end.

Regards, Paul.

anticant said...

The only thing that really matters in conflict resolution is the existence or absence of a Will to Peace on the part of the combatants.

If that is there, all the potential ohstacles can be ironed out.

For instance, the Golan Heights could be placed under the supervision of a UN Peacekeeping Force.

But there will only be a Will to Peace and genuine negotiations when one or both sides realise that they cannot 'win', and decide to settle for the best terms they can get.

As long as the Israelis believe that they can 'win' and are backed up by successive US administrations who regard them as an essential outpost of American power in the Middle East, there will be no Will to Peace.

noggin said...

Given that the pre-67 borders leave Israel extremely vulnerable to attack, which must be considered along with the fact that Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors, one would have to be crazy to think that pre-67 is acceptable.

But it's hard to see a viable two-state solution in which Palestine has less terriory than that. So if pre-1967 is unacceptable, what is acceptable? Genocide or endless conflict? Or what?

Paul P. Mealing said...

Unfortunately, I think Anticant is right, and so is Noggin. While Israel thinks it can win (at all cost), and the rest of the (Western) world gives tacit agreement, we will have conflict without end.

Regards, Paul.

Damian said...

I came across this on scienceblogs, where the discussion was remarkably similar to here.

"Israel blames Hamas for primitive homemade rocket attacks on the nearby Israeli city of Sederot. In 2001-2008, these rockets killed about 15 Israelis and injured 433, and they have damaged property. In the same period, Gazan mortar attacks on Israel have killed 8 Israelis.

Since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Israelis have killed nearly 5000 Palestinians, nearly a thousand of them minors. Since fall of 2007, Israel has kept the 1.5 million Gazans under a blockade, interdicting food, fuel and medical supplies to one degree or another. Wreaking collective punishment on civilian populations such as hospital patients denied needed electricity is a crime of war.

The Israelis on Saturday killed 5% of all the Palestinians they have killed since the beginning of 2001! 230 people were slaughtered in a day, over 70 of them innocent civilians. In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas. The infliction of this sort of death toll is known in the law of war as a disproportionate response, and it is a war crime."


Source.

One person objected to this source, but then, he did state that the BBC and the Guardian are institutionally anti-Israel, which is a wonderful tactic if you don't want to deal with criticism. Unsurprisingly, he failed to challenge the numbers with another source.

Look, Israel obviously has a right to defend herself. Only a pacifist could claim otherwise. But as others have said, the continuation of hostilities only serves one purpose - to further the disconnect between the two sides, which in turn leads to the continuation of hostilities. It's essentially self-fulling.

The worst aspect is that Israel, while correctly pointing to the fact that Hamas are willing to use civilians as a shield, play right in to their hands by killing so many innocents.

As in Iraq, it boggles the mind that so many highly intelligent politicians and generals can conclude that people that have lost half of their family as "collateral damage", would turn around and thank them for taking out militants - who weren't directly affecting their lives (sure, Hamas deserve some blame for the poverty that ordinary Palestinians find themselves in, but that is not how it looks to them).

I can only conclude that the Israeli's (like the British and American's in Iraq) believe that they can rule by force, regardless of how many innocent Palestinians lose their lives.

I had hoped that we had moved beyond such a callous attitude toward "the other", but as long as ordinary people in western democracies are willing to suck up the party line, and the media is afraid to tell the truth, this kind of thing will continue to happen.

There is much to admire about the west, but it is about time that we faced up to the fact that we have purposely kept others down for far too long, and that if we genuinely care about human rights, that must apply to all people, and in particular, those who are the most downtrodden.

I won't hold my breath.

anticant said...

There used to be much to admire about the West, during and immediately after WW2.

I'm not sure there is any more.

Paul P. Mealing said...

That appears to be a very good site, Damian.

This is a link I received from Amnesty International, if anyone is interested.

http://amnestyinternationalaustralia.cmail2.com/T/ViewEmail/y/D7A9DBAC18376651/D332CEC5C7FFBD29C68C6A341B5D209E

Regards, Paul.

Kosh3 said...

Does anyone have moral objections against killing members of Hamas? Or is the scope of objection limited to those who are killed in the process of killing Hamas members?

Does anyone object to bombing the homes of Hamas leaders, whether that involves the risk (let us say, high risk) of killing their wives/children?

anticant said...

I have a moral objection to killing anyone, except out of the most extreme necessity of self-preservation.

Does anyone posting here seriously maintain that the Israeli action in Gaza is proportional to the threat which Hamas poses to Israel's existence?

The following link puts the point with more eloquence than I can:

http://bloggersontherun.blogspot.com/2009/01/proportionality-is-dirty-word.html

Kosh3 said...

So you wouldn't kill Hitler/Stalin if you had access a time machine (neither of whom was a threat to you)? A non-absolute pacifism resonates with you (after all, you admit that one may kill under certain circumstances)?

I don't believe that the current Israeli actions are either proportional or prudent. I have serious concerns over the seeming lack of concern on the Israeli's part for civilian casualties.

anticant said...

Having been a child in the 1930s and a teenager during the 1939-45 war, I am probably more familiar than you are with the villainies of Hitler and Stalin, the former of whom certainly did pose a personal threat to me and everyone in Britain, and whom I would gladly have annihilated myself if I could.

Your cheap sneer about "non-absolute pacifism" is wide of the mark - I am heartily in favour of political assassination in circumstances where it is likely to save innocent lives. It is a pity it is not used more often: so-called world "statesmen" might then be a bit more careful about the immoralities which they so blithely perpetrate.


Morally and ideologically speaking I see nothing to choose between Islamofascists and Zionazis. In this instance the Zionazis are winning hands down in terms of disproportionate brutality, and to return to the original theme of Stephen's post the portrayal of Israel as a 'victim' is outrageous spin, equivalent to saying that the inmates of Auschwitz and Buchenwald were responsible for their own fate because they chose to get on the trains.

Whatever military advantage Israel gains - or thinks it does - from the present adventure, it has finally lost the sympathy of many in the West who hitherto were prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt.

I am glad about that.

Kosh3 said...

Anticant,

I assumed (thinking it unlikely) that you would have been personally threatened by Hitler. But we can simply change the examples to something more appropriate, to Ghengis Khan/Caligula/Mao(whoever you like).

Secondly, I wouldn't characterise simply making reference to non-absolute pacifism as a 'cheap sneer'. The simple fact of the matter is that most people who identify themselves as pacifists are not in fact absolute pacifists, in that they can be brought to admit that killing other people can be permissible given certain situations.

anticant said...

So what, "philosophy student"? Are you concerned, like me, to see more morality and less hypocrisy in world affairs; less violence and a greater genuine will to peace? Do you wish, as I do, to feel proud of being a member of the most intellectually honest and morally challenging civilisation the world has yet seen - i.e. Western civilisation at its best - instead of horribly ashamed of its humbugging aggressions and self-deceptions, as I have been for the past decade?

I am not interested in idle word-spinning. If you want to go waffling on about Caligula and Ghengis Khan, by all means do. It would be more to the point if you ceased your ad hominem arguments and addressed yourself to the rights and wrongs of the Middle Eastern situation. If you think there is a convincing philosophical and moral justification for Israel's current actions, let's hear it.

And before you tell us, look at those pictures I linked to.

Kosh3 said...

I wasn't aware that I had offered any arguments at all - let alone committed any ad hominem attacks - rather than asked a series of questions on your moral thoughts! I wasn't even aware it was an insult to be a 'non-absolute' pacifist (I presume this is what you are referring to? I am none to clear).

Now, I am not sure how serious you actually are in carrying on a civil, normal conversation here. The above post leads me to think not, but then, people can say unfortunate things in heated moments. In any case, I do not defend and have noted having significant problems with Israel's conduct to date.

anticant said...

Not sure how you define "civil. normal conversation". In my book it can include vigorous controversy, and sometimes get a bit heated - as in the present situation, where the blatant hypocrisy and self-deception involved in Israel's stance seems to me to exceed even the high level of humbug we have grown accustomed to in recent years.

But nothing personal intended on my side, either. I too am interested in your moral views. as a philosophy student, on the 21st century conduct of politics - which, as many philosophers from Aristotle onwards have pointed out, is a prime stamping ground for humbug.

Kosh3 said...

Well, I think that politics is a very-often relied upon explanation for problems of all sorts - and one religious apologists are prone to offering up as the sole cause of conflicts, over any reference to contradictory metaphysical systems of thought that people acquire from their religions (cf. Reza Aslan, and his debate with Sam Harris).

anticant said...

Both politics and religion are merely rhetorical frameworks for human action.

The basic problems do not lie in them, but in what Kant called "the crooked timber of humanity".

The philosophical task, surely, is to educate people into thinking more realistically and honestly about their conceptions of the world and their behaviour in it.

Kosh3 said...

I would disagree that religion is no more than a rhetorical device, and that it is not a genuine cause of beliefs and behaviour. Both political and religious ideas exploit psychological facts about us, to be sure, but that is precisely why it is meaningful to speak of them as being more than a common language for the communication of ideas (as Aslan appears to proposes).

I agree that much could be benefited by education of people, particularly with regards to cognitive biases and the role of social arrangements in the inculcation and justification of beliefs, attitudes, and values.

anticant said...

I was using "rhetoric" in an Oakeshottian sense - I attended his brilliant lectures on political philosophy when I was at Cambridge.

Kosh3 said...

Ok - what would be the translation?

anticant said...

Roughly, relying on ancient memory, a conceptual framework of discourse; a traditional pattern of thinking. [Much more substantial than 'rhetoric' used in the sense of empty verbiage or sophistical argument.]

It's a long time since I looked at my notes, so I may not be recollecting accurately......

Cassanders said...

I notice that several of the commenters makes normative judgements on (the lack of) "proportionality" in the Gaza intervention. I tend to susbscribe to a variety of this reasoning myself, but I think André Glucksman has some interesting reflections:

http://www.city-journal.org/2009/eon0109ag.html

(Just to avoid misunderstandings, I am not in favor of the current invasion in Gaza)

But what would you really consider the most "appropriate proportionality"

a) allowing Hamas to stockpile and use more effective weaponry?

b) Responding with a proportionate number of imprecise rockets only?

c) Ensure that the number of civilian causalties is meticuously measured at any given time, and only to "retaliate" with the killing of a corresponding number of civilians.

d) Prohibit rocket warning capacity and local bomb shelters in Israel?

e) "Educate" young jews to suecide bomber "martyrdom"?

f) Any other British Sportsmanship approaches..... anyone?

Cassanders
In Cod we trust

anticant said...

It is really rather absurd to complain about the Palestinians arming themselves with primitive rockets while the West - especially the USA - actively arms Israel to the teeth with state-of-the-art military hardware. I see that the Americans are currently negotiating a charter ship to take two large shipments of arms from Greece to Israel before the end of this month.

Also, down the years the Americans have vetoed many UN resolutions - about 40 I believe - censuring Israel for its actions in Palestine. If they had not done so, the conflict would most probably have been resolved long ago.

Where is the proportionality in all this?

David said...

Israel broke the cease fire? Huh? Where did you get that tidbit? Unless you define "cease fire" as "Jews-exercise-restraint-while-Hamas-continues-launching-rockets-as-usual," then it was, in fact, Hamas that declared the cease fire over, and Hamas that broke it while it was in effect.

anticant said...

Oh dear - back to the old blame game. We're not discussing kids' playground "yah boo you started it", "no I didn't, you did" stuff. We're questioning whether the Israeli response in this instance is proportionate.

Kosh3 said...

Cassanders:

In my view, the idea of proportionality has to be related to the willingness to incur (in the course of doing acceptable things, like killing Hamas leadership, and destroying rocket stockpiles) civilian casualties as a double effect of ones tactics, as against the danger that not doing so presents.

I think somewhere near 1000 Palestinians have been killed, but that in itself tells us nothing. I think aid agencies report that around 25-33% of that figure are children and women - so we might infer somewhere between 250-333 innocents killed roughly. Suppose you knew the figures at the outset of the operation - would that many deaths be justified in order to destroy rockets and harm Hamas?

I think a lot of people judge that that price is much too high for what is being achieved.

Kosh3 said...

Incidentally, this video (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9fb_1231776655) is relevant to discussions here. Purports to show Israeli fighter pilots diverting the flight of missiles in order to avoid civilian casualties

Cassanders said...

@Kosh3
Since I perceive a question.
Yes, I agree that with such a number of collateral damage known up front, IAF should not have launched the attack. Alas, the hawks apparently won the battle in the Knesset.

While the primary reason for me not supporting this strategy of destructing Hamas is the number og civilian causalties AND injuries/suffering, one should not disregard that the IAF possibly have been lured into a political trap where Hamas wins a double goodwill victory.

By deliberately sacrificing its own population (both by provoking the attack and by taking cover among civilians) the IAF may have played the cards right into the hands of Hamas.
It wins international (and not the least national) support, as well as degrades Israels allready tarnished reputation.

Cassanders
In Cod we trust

Cassanders said...

Commenting on myself.
Sorry for my sloppy writing.

Of course it was Hamas who eventually lured Israel into the trap. The trap is both the provocation leading to a full scale attack on Gaza, the gain of international sympathy of Palestinians as victims, and the deterioration of Israels international moral capital.

Cassanders
In Cod we trust

Kosh3 said...

I quite agree. Hamas can fire off its rockets, the Israeli response will invariably wind up killing civilians. This is a result of fact that

a) war causes collateral damage
b) Hamas is very much intertwined with the civilian population, and uses that fact to its full advantage (of which I think somthing like 2/3rds are aged under 25, or something ridiculous like that. There will always be children getting blown to bits by Israeli bombs in such tight areas)

Those deaths will then receive significant attention in the media, which sets up and secures Hamas' position and generates wide ranging sympathy for the Palestinian people. Hamas wins, Israel is stupid.

Israel needs to lift the blockade, and start thinking about better ways to deal with Hamas.

anticant said...

People rarely do what others without direct power or influence over them say they "should" or "ought" or "need" to unless they deem it to be for their own benefit.

In this instance, Israel has got the green light from the US abstention on the UN ceasefire resolution [contrary to previous assurances that it would be supported], and is only going to end its operation in Gaza when it sees fit, regardless of worldwide protests which I don't think bother it in the least, while humanitarian considerations count for even less [the Palestinians being in Israeli eyes subhuman, unwanted people].

I see that Tony Blair has now emerged from hiding professing to be working hard for a peace deal which must include "the end of illegal arms deliveries to Hamas". No mention of stopping arms deliveries - illegal of otherwise - to Israel.

And so the lopsided caravan lurches on.

anticant said...

I have just seen this report in the Jerusalem "Daily Times":

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday he had telephoned United States President George W Bush late on Thursday to ask the US not to vote in the United Nations Security Council for a ceasefire in Gaza. “In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the US Secretary of State wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the UNSC, we did not want her to vote in favour,” Olmert said. “I told him (Bush) the US could not vote in favour.”

Note that "COULD not". No reticence from the Zionist tail about how it wags the US dog.

In another Jerusalem newspaper report, Prime Minister Olmert is quoted as saying:

"We are dealing with brutal terrorist organizations devoid of the compassion and tolerance which characterize us."

Presumably all mirrors have been banned from Israeli government and IDF offices.

anticant said...

And I now see that Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, said a few days ago: "There is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce."

This lady, I believe, aspires to be Israel's next prime minister. She and her colleagues appear to see the world through an endless supply of rose-coloured spectacles.

Chris Gale said...

You cant 'deal' with Hamas. It is an terrorist outfit supported and funded by Iran, that beacon of democracy that executes gay people and stones women to death

anticant said...

That is not the view of Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British Ambassador to the US and the United Nations, speaking on Channel Four News tonight.

And as I have pointed out previously on this thread, you always do have to negotiate with terrorists eventually unless you succeed in wiping them out completely. As [whether we like it or not] Hamas was elected into government by the Palestinian people, this would involve wiping out the bulk of the Arab population.

Is this what he Israeli government twants?

anticant said...

And please don't tell us that Zionists have never engaged in terrorism in pursuit of their territorial ambitions.

A little publicised document is "The UN Report Prepared for Ralph Bunche", listing all the atrocities committed by Jewish terrorist groups when Palestine was in British hands. Jewish terrorists even threatened to take their campaign to Britain and kill British civilians:

www.jrbooksonline.com/HTML-docs/bunche-report.htm

www.doublestandards.org/unbunche.html

One pertinent entry:

On December 30, 1947, a British Major and three sergeants were kidnapped and flogged by Jewish terrorists.

Other Jewish terrorist acts included: plots to blow up British military headquarters, the kidnapping and hanging of British military officials, killing British policemen, letter bombs to numerous British government officials, machine gun attacks on Palestinian cities, bombing hotels, blowing up trains, blowing up oil pipelines, detonating bombs at British embassies, detonating trucks laden with explosives, and bank robbery.

In 1980, the Stern Gang (also known as Lehi) was officially honoured by the Israeli government as "freedom fighters". The Stern Gang was one of the most active terrorist Jewish groups during the 1940s, whose stated goal was to "forcibly evict the British authorities from Palestine, allowing unrestricted immigration of Jews and the formation of a Jewish state". A special Lehi ribbon - a military decoration - was designed for the former members.

The U.N. report says: "There appears to be no way to control the Jews or their determinations to drive all of the Arabs out of Jerusalem by force if necessary.
"The initial Arab response to Jewish harassment over the past year has been very slow in coming, but it seems to be quite inevitable, and a terrible civil war is foreseen.

"The Arabs, initially living in peace with the Jewish minority, have been increasingly victimized by the Jews who, now that the British are leaving, are turning their savage behaviour against them."

anticant said...

Now we have the egregiously ineffable Binyamin [‘Bibi’] Netanyahu – another Israeli prime ministerial aspirant – solemnly assuring anyone who cares to listen that: "We grieve for every one of them [the many hundreds of Palestinian casualties in Gaza]; we genuinely do."

Yahoo indeed. These people give chutzpah a bad name. They would make even the most case-hardened weeping crocodile blush.

Cassanders said...

A bit on Palestinians as the victims.

Currently the death toll is more than 1000, and number of wounded some 4-5 times that number.
And this is (as I allready have admitted to Kosh3) way too high to justify the Gaza-campaign.

I am not alluding that two wrongs make one right, or that unjust actions comitted elsewhere somhow should justify the deaths in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, when many today depict Israel as particulary bellingerent, and even make apalling comparisons to the nazi genocide, I think people need to take a step back and think.

Why do people seem to react disproportionally to this particular conflict in the Middle-east?

Here are some numbers putting this conflict in context.

http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=F3DBDA14-AD32-4BAB-8791-F7AB3AA7DE5D

(Just for the record, this number also contain a number of Israeli causalties)

Cassanders
In Cod we trust

sgl said...

"Suppose that after a few IRA attacks"

Oh dear Stephen. I pulled you up on this a few days ago and you changed to "numerous", now we're back with few. Eh?

Stephen Law said...

Sgl

eh? Explain...

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