Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This is likely to become the defining event of this "war"

Israeli forces order 49 members of a family into a house for "safety" - and then start firing both shells and missiles at it.



All these claims were repeated as fact by Channel 4 News this evening (and are corroborated by UN and Red Cross sources). Israel says "it has no documentation of this event."

I'll just repeat my earlier 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 bulldozing entire villages, making 50,000 people homeless, and 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?

One way or another, if there is to be peace, Israel will have to talk to Hamas. Just as the British Government talked to the IRA.

20 comments:

anticant said...

Interesting that in his Inaugural oration Obama said: "to those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us and we will defeat you."

Anyone who thinks he had Israel in mind must be joking. So what WILL he do about Gaza?

Paul P. Mealing said...

As the journalist said: all the hallmarks of a war crime. If Israel is not held for account in a war crimes tribunal for this, then the West has no credibility.

We can't have a double standard over this.

I think Stephen's analogy with the IRA is spot on: Israel has to talk to Hamas.

Regards, Paul.

sgl said...

Hamas is recognised by the UN as a terrorist organisation, if there have been crimes committed let them be investigated, but please, investigate both sides.

Comparing the IRA with Hamas is stupid. The IRA wanted a specific political goal, Hamas' charter calls for the total destruction of the Israeli state.

Stick to what you know about Mr Law.

Stephen Law said...

Hi SGL

"Hamas is recognised by the UN as a terrorist organisation"

The IRA was a terrorist organization too and recognised as such. Yet the British Government talked to them. They did not unleash the horror on innocent civilians that has just been unleashed by Israel, and if they had, they would have been considered a pariah state.

"There have been crimes committed let them be investigated, but please, investigate both sides."

Absolutely. I do consider atrocities on both sides. I have already condemned Hamas's attacks in earlier posts on "Israel". I don't remember Hamas killing 13000 people in a week recently though.

"Comparing the IRA with Hamas is stupid. The IRA wanted a specific political goal, Hamas' charter calls for the total destruction of the Israeli state."

The IRA wanted Northern Ireland reunited with the rest - which also could never happen with a Protestant majority.

Hamas officially call for the destruction of Israel. But that will not happen, and Hamas knows it. It's just posturing. The Palestinians, and Hamas, will settle for a viable 2 state solution. Hamas already offered 50 year ceasefire if Israel pull back to 67 borders. Again, scroll down and you will see I have already dealt with everything you say, here.

Maybe try something another line of attack? Alternatively, you could just say, without qualification "Hey, yes, that was very, very wrong?" Can you do that?

"Stick to what you know about Mr Law."

I am no expert on these things, but I did look into this conflict in some detail when I edited a book about this conflict and terrorism. So, possibly, I might even know a bit more about it than you.

The more I have found out, the more I have ended up disgusted by the behaviour of Israel. I really have no axe to grind. I have some Jewish blood, and no Arab. I don't like either religion much. I do support the ongoing existence of a Jewish state. But I cannot avoid the, it seems to me blindingly fucking obvious, conclusion that what Israel has done is stupid and profoundly immoral. And neither can a great many Jews.

I find myself utterly baffled by those who refuse ever to condemn Israeli violence (such as the US Government).

sgl said...

Sorry won't do: Suppose that after a few IRA attacks

Shouldn't that be after a few thousand rocket attacks and 40 years of it's neighbours trying to destroy it.

Disingenuous doesn't come close.

But it's your blog - say what you want.

Stephen Law said...

Hi SGL. "Thousands of rocket attacks".

Misleading. Countless rockets fired, yes, but 11 people killed. In just one pub bomb attack in Birmingham in 1974, the IRA killed 21 and injured 162.

I don't remember the British Government responding with tanks and airstrikes on civilian Catholic areas, killing over a thousand. As I say, what would the world have said about that?

"40 years of it's neighbours trying to destroy it."

Hyperbole. When was Israel last invaded? It's overwhelming military might - and nuclear arsenal - makes any immanent invasion unlikely, I think!

My view is pretty simple:

(i) Israel was wrong to unleash this attack.

(i) Israel should talk to Hamas.

I can't see that anything you have said really undermines these two claims. As I say, I am non-partisan. And of course, it's not just Arabs that agree with me. So do many Jews.

Stephen Law said...

Hi again

I'd be interested to know, sgl, what you think Israel should do to achieve a peaceful resolution of this conflict, and what do you think would constitute an acceptable deal, in terms of territory?

sgl said...

Misleading. Countless rockets fired, yes, but 11 people killed. In just one pub bomb attack in Birmingham in 1974, the IRA killed 21 and injured 162.

Well is it a few or countless?
Yes, I was there, but the day before it happened. What did we do, if memory serves, we jerked our knees and arrested the wrong people. I complained when the men arrested were beaten up whilst in custody.


"40 years of it's neighbours trying to destroy it."

Hyperbole. When was Israel last invaded? It's overwhelming military might - and nuclear arsenal - makes any immanent invasion unlikely, I think!

So Israel isn't surrounded by hostile states, the UNHRC is wholly impartial when it comes to Israel,

(i) Israel was wrong to unleash this attack.

Wrong in what sense, certainly not in legal terms, they were being attacked with rockets. Whether or not it was the right thing to do is, I'll agree, open to question.


(i) Israel should talk to Hamas.

They're a group of Islamist thugs; ask Fatah - especially the relatives of Fatah members who were murdered. They are not interested in peace, their strength is garnered from the (especially) muslim world precisely because they fight Israel. The more suffering their people endure, the more they can show the world, but as GM said "there will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Jews".

It is a tragedy and needs to sorted out. What has annoyed me more than anything is the size of the protest movement against this action, where were all these people when hundreds of thousands died in Darfour or millions in the Congo. It couldn't be anything to do with them being Jews now could it.

Israel should remove settlements in the WB and negotiate with more moderate voices.

anticant said...

It's blindingly obvious from the above exchanges that religion is the very devil.

Or does sgl regard Jewishness as more racial than religious? In which case, why all the "Holy Land bestowed by Jehovah upon our forebears in perpetuity" stuff?

Stephen Law said...

Hi SGL

“Well is it a few or countless?”

Countless rockets fired from Gaza, killing 11 (for most rockets land in empty fields). A few IRA attacks, in fact, let’s say just one, on a pub etc. killing 23. If Israel is justified in unleashing tanks, airstrikes etc, killing over a thousand innocents, in response to the former, why wasn’t the UK justified in responding similarly to the latter?

“So Israel isn't surrounded by hostile states, the UNHRC is wholly impartial when it comes to Israel”

Of course Israel is surrounded by hostile states. So what?

“Wrong in what sense, certainly not in legal terms, they were being attacked with rockets. Whether or not it was the right thing to do is, I'll agree, open to question.’

Obviously I was not making a legal judgement. So maybe we will yet end up agreeing on the moral issue, especially as you haven’t sunk my IRA analogy yet.

“They're a group of Islamist thugs”

So were many IRA (thugs that it, not Islamist!).

“They are not interested in peace, their strength is garnered from the (especially) muslim world precisely because they fight Israel.”

Exactly what many say about Israel, perhaps with reason. “Israel gains greatly from ongoing conflict – a Greater Israel!” In fact, if this accusation about Hamas is true, this would be a very good reason to talk to Hamas, as it would undermine their strategy!

“What has annoyed me more than anything is the size of the protest movement against this action, where were all these people when hundreds of thousands died in Darfour or millions in the Congo. It couldn't be anything to do with them being Jews now could it.”

I can’t see much of a protest movement. I am protesting in a small way on my blog. True, I didn’t post anything on Darfour or the Congo. Does that make me anti-semitic?

Well, my annoyance in this case is largely at the lack of condemnation of Israel (esp. US and UK governments). Everyone condemns the killers in those other regions. But Israel is not condemned. Why? It’s a double standard.

What further rankles is that Israel is not a bunch murderous, corrupt thugs in some crappy little third-world country, but a modern, rich, democratic state - and a nuclear power to boot - with all the pretensions of being “civilized”, unleashing hell upon the entire civilian population of Gaza because of 11 dead Israelis. Again, I make my IRA analogy and ask: what’s wrong with it?

We expect such atrocities from third world despots, but from Israel we expect better.

The thing about the charge of anti-semitism - “It couldn’t be because they’re Jews, could it?” - which you’ve now raised, is that it’s an example of the ad hominem fallacy. Even if I were anti-semitic, so what? – that would not mean that my arguments were not good or my analogy not sound.

It’s like me saying you’ve got bad breath. So what? The anti-semitism card typically gets played whenever defenders of Israeli policy start running out of argument “Oh well, you’re just anti-semitic. So I don’t have to bother giving you an argument”.

“Israel should remove settlements in the WB and negotiate with more moderate voices.”

Agreed. But they can and should talk to Hamas too – elected by the Palestinian people of Gaza. If anything, you seem actually to have given a reason for talking to Hamas.

georgesdelatour said...

It may be that Al Queda really brought peace to Ireland. I don't want to overstate the case. Of course the Good Friday Agreement was already signed before 9/11. But it was only after 9/11 that the IRA finally handed in their weapons.

I remember when I heard about the Twin Towers attack, my first thought was, God, how awful. And my second thought was, maybe Americans will finally understand what they've been putting us through in Britain and Ireland. It seems they did. Before 9/11, American donations had occasionally made Sinn Fein a wealthier political party than Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. After 9/11 US donations to the IRA / Sinn Fein dried up almost completely.

Before 9/11 the IRA liked associating itself - publicly - with Middle Eastern terrorists (or "freedom fighters" if you like). The Provos were very fond of comparing themselves with the FLN, they frequently flew PLO flags in West Belfast, and Colonel Quaddaffi was a regular arms supplier to the IRA. After 9/11 the Provos did everything they could to distance themselves completely from any Middle Eastern cause, to reassure Irish-Americans that they had nothing in common with Osama Bin Laden and co.

I think the new wave of Islamic terrorism has put old-fashioned western terrorists like the IRA and ETA in a difficult situation. They can't match, and don't want to match, the new terror "spectaculars" like 9/11, Bali, Madrid or London. And the kind of people who are prepared to blow themselves up for 72 virgins seem so pathologically alienated from any kind of conventional politics - even violent politics. They seem closer to the cults around Charles Manson and Jim Jones than to classic national liberation movements like Filiki Eteria, La Giovine Italia, the Indian National Congress, the ANC etc.

Private Eye has a poignant cartoon, showing Gerry Adams saying, "don't you miss the good old days when you used to be scared of me".

Kosh3 said...

Stephen,

How do you talk to someone (Hamas) who, for religious reasons, sees holy war as a fundamental good and prime religious value? Moreover, how do you talk to them after just having killed scores of the people they represent!

Stephen Law said...

Hi Kosh3. To insist Hamas and the Palestinians that voted for them can't be negotiated with because they are only interested in endless Holy War is just bullshit, frankly.

They want a viable two state solution. See this CNN report, for example:

http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/04/04/mideast/index.html

Stephen Law said...

Also this:

II. Hamas accepts a two-state solution. When asked by Newsweek-Washington Post correspondent Lally Weymouth on 26 February 2006 what agreements Hamas was prepared to honor, the new Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh answered, "the ones that will guarantee the establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital with 1967 borders." Weymouth went on, "Will you recognize Israel?" to which Haniyeh responded, "If Israel declares that it will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights then we are ready to recognize them." (5) This view encapsulates the Hamas demand for reciprocity.

Kosh3 said...

"Hi Kosh3. To insist Hamas and the Palestinians that voted for them can't be negotiated with because they are only interested in endless Holy War is just bullshit, frankly."

I didn't insist that, though. I simply pointed out that there are religious roadblocks to negotiations being fruitful, in that Islam provides clear support (in terms of encouragements and promised rewards) for war and violence in its name, where that is done 'justly'.

I then noted that it will be ever more difficult to negotiate with Israel simply for the fact that they just killed somewhere in the order of 1300 Palestinians (to be fair though, many of whom were militants - but that is likely to be upsetting to Hamas in any case).

Kosh3 said...

Analogy: its a bit like me and you being in a bar, and you connecting several haymakers on my noggin. I've got a bloody nose now and I realy feel like hitting back. Then there is a guy next to me offering me $100,000 to go 12 rounds with you, win or lose. And then you say you want to talk in a civilised manner.

Well I'd have to say things would not look too promising for that!

Paul P. Mealing said...

Hi Stephen,

Just a slightly off-topic query for my own edification: does 'ad hominem fallacy' mean attacking the arguer rather than attacking the argument?

I know I should know these things, but I never studied Latin and I see it used a lot.

Regards, Paul.

Stephen Law said...

Yes, that's what ad hominem is.

Timmo said...

Stephen,

Your hypothetical Ireland scenario hits the nail on the head, I think. If you use per capita equivalent numbers, you have (roughly): 92 British deaths; 4,400 Irish deaths; 202,000 Irish homeless.

Cassanders said...

I assume this incident will be investigated as well. If corroborated, the responsible people in IAF should be prosecuted.

However, quite important information begins to surface in another "High profile" incident, the alleged bombing of an UN (UNRWA) school in the Jabalya camp.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090129.wgazaschool29/BNStory/International/home

While such information in my opinion cannot be used to justify the Gaza campaign, I think the monomanous demonizing accont of the campaign should be revised.

Cassanders
In Cod we trust