LTMC: Et tu, Bernie?
LTMC: Et tu, Bernie?
Israeli officials and advocates often ask critics of their foreign policy “what would you do if you had rockets raining down on you?” This question has a tendency to stump people who aren’t prepared for it. John Jackson at +972, however, has provided an excellent response by drawing a parallel to the conduct of the British Government during the worst years of IRA violence:
During the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, civilian deaths were caused by the British Army, the Loyalists and Republican paramilitaries. But for the purpose of answering the Israeli question it is useful to look at the major bombing campaigns by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that took place across England. These campaigns were far more destructive than anything coming out of Gaza. There were approximately 10,000 bomb attacks during the conflict – about 16,000 if you include failed attempts. A significant proportion of them were on English soil.
A time bomb was detonated at Brighton’s Grand Hotel, where Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were staying for the Conservative Party conference. Thatcher narrowly escaped death, five people were killed (including an MP) and 31 injured. The Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandson and three others were blown up while fishing off the coast of Ireland. In Manchester city center a 3,300-pound bomb caused £1.1 billion (today’s value) in damage and injured 212 people. The Bishopsgate bombing in the city of London cost £350 million to repair and injured 44 people. And, as those of us who lived through those times will remember, there were numerous bombs in pubs and shops, on high streets and shopping centers, in train stations and on the London underground. The thousands of rockets fired by Hamas over the last month have killed six civilians in Israel, along with 64 soldiers, while the IDF has killed 2,104 Palestinians, including at least 500 children.
Despite the effectiveness of the IRA campaign, it would have been politically inconceivable and morally unjustifiable for the Royal Air Force to bomb the streets and homes of the republican communities in North or West Belfast – the communities from which the IRA came and amongst which it lived. It would have been unacceptable in Britain and, indeed, to the U.S. government at the time. The British army and intelligence services did terrible things in Northern Ireland, but such a wholesale massacre of civilians would have been unconscionable. The answer to the question of what would you do? In Britain’s case at least, faced with a destructive bombing campaign, it did not respond by sending in warplanes to bomb schools, hospitals or terraced houses.
Another blogger asks:
With regard to the one state solution post, do you think the areas under Palestinian control would be economically viable as part of a two state solution?
The primary factor for economic viability in a two-state solution involves Israeli control over airspace, water, and land borders of the Palestinian state. If Palestinians were allowed to (1) trade freely amongst themselves and their neighbors, and (2) develop their land without it repeatedly being destroyed by the Israeli government, then Palestinian territories would be very economically viable. But so long as we have a situation where the Israeli government gets to decide who or what is allowed into the Palestinian territories, and is also allowed virtually unrestricted authority to destroy Palestinian infrastructure in the name of national security, then a Palestinian state will never be independently economically viable.
I’m not trying to suggest that Israel doesn’t have valid security concerns about what crosses the border with Palestinian territories, or militant operations within them. However, restricting access to consumer goods and repeatedly destroying Palestinian infrastructure is counterproductive from a security standpoint for Israel: people living in the Palestinian territories feel oppressed because Israel is denying them access to the consumer goods necessary for them to thrive, and also destroying their livelihood. This creates political resentment towards Israel, which breeds support for militancy and extremism. So in order for any long-term peace to ever be established, Israel has to be willing to lift trade restrictions, stop blowing up Palestinian infrastructure in a counterproductive effort to fight militants, and give Palestinians complete and unexceptional sovereignty over their putative state. Anything less will simply be the same emperor in new clothes.
A one-state solution from the Israeli right:
The State of Israel should annex Judea and Samaria and grant full citizenship to all Palestinians. Demography is not a numerical predestination, it is an expression of the joie de vivre of the nation. When a nation is happy, its number of children grows, that’s why I’m not scared of demography. Whoever can’t live with Arabs is not a partner of mine.
I trust the Arab public in Israel, it has proved itself. I have no fear of a bi-national state, the solution is not B-class citizens nor high fences. It is a simple and humane solution, Palestinians must be granted full rights and should vote for the Knesset. Whoever truly wants peace, should agree to accept more Arab citizens to his state, and whoever is part of the State of Israel whose borders need to be between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea for many reasons, needs to be a citizen with full rights and obligations.
There is no question that this solution would be a more peaceful resolution if the majority of Palestinians were willing to go along with it. This is also refreshing to hear from an Israeli nationalist who no doubt wants Israel to maintain its character as a Jewish nation. In the past, this has meant nothing less than discrimination against Arabs and outright refusal of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Annexing both the West Bank and Gaza would create a sort of de facto Right of Return, and quite possibly create the dreaded demographic threat to Israel’s Jewish majority, which many feel is necessary to maintaining Israel’s character as a Jewish state.
The problem with this particular one-state solution, however, is that it forces millions of people to accept the sovereignty of a nation that has been oppressing them for decades. Politically speaking, it’s not very feasible. In order for a one-state solution to have any chance of working, in my opinion, the new bi-national state would have to be a new state built from the ground up with a bi-national identity. Everybody will have to feel like they are on equal footing. It can’t merely be a state for Jews that tolerates non-Jews, but a state built for everyone that lives there. Simply annexing the West Bank and Gaza, and granting Palestinians full citizenship (whether they want it or not) would probably lead to an open revolt. Palestinians have to feel that they are not being ruled or conquered, but being given a genuine right to self-determination in the new state. Without accounting for this reality, a one-state solution will never work.
From the article:
Nope, it’s not The Onion.
A few days ago some 300 Holocaust survivors placedan ad in the New York Timescondemning the massacre in Gaza. My colleague from Local Call, John Brown, has selected a few of the responseson Facebookthat Israelis posted in response to the ad.
I’ve translated a few from John’s selection:
David Cohen: Those aren’t Holocaust survivors those are probably collaborators with the Nazis.
Shmulik Halphon: He’s invited to go back to Auschwitz.
Itzik Levy: These are survivors who were Kapos. Leftist traitors. That’s why they live abroad and not in the Jewish State.
Vitali Guttman: Enough, they should die already. They survived the Holocaust only to do another Holocaust to Israel in global public opinion?
Meir Dahan: Now wonder that Hitler murdered 6 million Jews because of people like you you’re not even Jews you’re disgusting people a disgrace to humanity and so are your offspring you are trash.
Asher Solomon: It’s a shame Hitler didn’t finish the job.
Katy Morali: Holocaust survivors who think like this are invited to go die in the gas chambers.
Yafa Ashraf: Shitty Ashkenazis you are the Nazis.
The fact that there are Jews who can say this about other Jews—particularly Jews who actually endured what is generally regarded as the most catastrophic event in Jewish history—will never cease to cause me to shake my head.
This is Amir Alreqeb’s first passport he got so he can leave Gaza to get treatment.
LTMC: A good example of what happens when you block shipment of medical goods into Gaza, bomb the only power plant in Gaza, and shell three different hospitals in Gaza until they’re no longer suitable to treat patients.
Here’s what happened:
Eighteen suspected collaborators were killed by Hamas on Friday as the group announced a crackdown on Palestinians alleged to be working with Israel.
Seven men were shot dead in front of a mosque by men in Hamas military uniforms after Friday prayers, witnesses said.
The Hamas-affiliated al-Majd website said they were killed after legal procedures were completed against them. Suspects accused of collaboration are taken to “revolutionary military trials” presided over by security and legal experts, the site added.
Earlier, eleven Palestinians were killed by Hamas for allegedly collaborating with Israel.
Now, what I don’t understand is why Ali Abunimah, who runs the fairly influential Electronic Intifada website, feels the need to justify or excuse what Hamas has done. Leaving aside the problem of executions in general, in this case of executing “collaborators,” there’s no actual judicial process being followed here. Even Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who is often seen by suppoters of Israel as being far more lenient on Hamas than on Israel, has "described the judicial process for death sentences in Gaza as ‘deeply flawed.’" This could very well be some members of Hamas executing people who disagree with them. Abunimah doesn’t know; no one knows.
So, it’s very unsettling to see Abunimah make the argument that “collaboration” is seen by “every society” “as the most heinous crime” and thus that executing eighteen “suspected collaborators” isn’t unique to Palestinians — who thought it was? — or particularly problematic.
Abunimah apparently feels a need for Hamas to be seen as pure and clean in their resistance to Israel, and he takes it to be his role to defend them from anyone who might suggest otherwise. What he’s actually doing, though, is defending human rights violations … and it’s not as though these are isolated incidents, either. He does the same when he posts a comedic take on the death of Israeli civilians or belittles the effect of indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli civilians.
I know a fair number of people who view Abunimah and his website as a credible source for information on Israel/Palestine. I don’t share their view. This is why. Supporting the desire of the Palestinian people to live free of repression, occupation, and blockade is exactly right; however, insisting that resistance movements can do no wrong — in the face of obvious human rights violations — borders on the fanatical.
LTMC: It seems like Abunimah is mirroring the argument of Israeli boosters who complain that critics of israel are trying to make Israel a special case. As the argument goes, Israel is obviously not perfect, but neither is any other country on earth. In the U.S., for example, wartime collaboration is treason punishable by death. So I think Abunimah does have a point when he says that Hamas isn’t doing something that any other government on the world would do if its citizens were giving aid and support to an actively hostile nation.
That being said, it is a legitimate concern to wonder what Due Process protections these people actually had. I for one am immediately suspicious of any legal entity with the word “Revolutionary” in its title, given the poor track record of such bodies throughout history. This isn’t the first time Hamas has killed collaborators under questionable circumstances either:
According to the Congressional Research Service, Hamas admitted to having executed Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli authorities in the 1990s. A transcript of a training film by the al-Qassam Brigades tells how Hamas operatives kidnapped Palestinians accused of collaboration and then forced confessions before executing them.
Presumedly, the means used to “force confessions” out of the accused collaborators didn’t involve an intimate conversation over coffee.
As a person who follows Electronic Intifada, I think I would agree that Abunimah shows a little too much deference to Hamas, and gives them the benefit of the doubt far more than he should. By doing so, he conflates Hamas with the Palestinian people, which is a problem, because it feeds into the widespread feelings of Israelis who believe that Palestinians deserve collective punishment for voting Hamas into office. But I do think he has a point about punishing war-time collaborators as being something that nearly every country in the world does. The question is whether Hamas’s “Revolutionary Court” actually provides Due Process, or is rather more akin to a kangaroo enclosure.
From the article:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried last week to hide from cabinet ministers the draft of a cease-fire agreement drawn up by Egypt. A senior Israeli official said that during last Thursday evening’s cabinet meeting, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman confronted Netanyahu, showing him the copy of the Egyptian proposal that he, Lieberman, had received, and demanded an explanation.
The Israeli official said Lieberman surprised Netanyahu with this revelation. This was the first that the other cabinet ministers had heard that Israel had received a draft cease-fire agreement from the Egyptians, and they demanded copies of their own so they could review it.
A stormy atmosphere ensued and Netanyahu found himself on the defensive. The official said Netanyahu told the cabinet members that it was only a proposal, one of many that had been updated again and again in previous days.
"I didn’t say ‘yes’ to this draft and for now we do not accept it," he told the ministers.
At one point Netanyahu exited the cabinet meeting to speak with some visiting mayors from the south. That get-together was to last only a few minutes, yet Netanyahu stretched it out to more than an hour. Eventually Lieberman and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon lost their patience and left the cabinet meeting. It was decided to adjourn and continue the following morning.
When the ministers entered the cabinet room Friday morning, Netanyahu had no choice but to present the Egyptian proposal to them. He told the cabinet members that he was rejecting it because it did not answer Israel’s security demands.
And of course by security demands, Netanyahu means permanent military control and jurisdiction over Palestinian territory, which he wants even under a 2-state solution. So now, he hides ceasefire proposals from his cabinet, and has a negotiating position which is acceptable to precisely no one on the Palestinian side. It’s hard to see how anyone could seriously suggest this man is devoted to peace.
Not too long ago, I suggested that Israel may have triggered the Third Intifada with Operation Protective Edge. Here is more evidence of that being the case:
I have just returned from a work visit to Ramallah. I am very concerned and disturbed by what I heard from friends and colleagues there. The calm appearance of the city hides the sizzling bubbling under the surface. The West Bankis on the verge of explosion.
As an illustration of what I’ve heard from people I spoke with, on the way home I listened to some Palestinian popular radio stations. All of the songs were full of praise for Hamas and al-Qassam Brigades – “let’s hit Tel Aviv with our rockets” and much worse . It was horrible to hear the drums of war and battle calls on the radio.
I was told that scenes that haven’t appeared for years since the intifada are now all over Ramallah, Bethlehem and throughout the West Bank – street gangs of masked men with weapons calling for young people to join the Al Aqsa Brigades and other battalions – “revenge for the death of our brothers and sisters in Gaza, we are all Gaza, we are all-Qassam Brigades.”
There is no more talk of peace and two states. The discussions on the street and in the cafes are all about the end of the ceasefire and the renewal of war in Gaza. They say the Jews’ war is not against Hamas, it is against all Palestinians, and the Qassam Brigades are the only ones fighting the Zionists, who want to kill all the Palestinians.
Abbas is described almost as a public enemy. Every day, Mohammed Dahlan transmits calls against Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, from the Gulf. Dahlan and other important Fatah leaders in the West Bank are calling on Palestinian security forces to stop the security coordination with Israel and use their weapons against Israel instead. There are calls to attack settlements and to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Back in May, after another round of peace negotiations collapsed, a frustrated U.S. diplomat blamed Israeli officials for the impasse and told the Israeli press that “I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.” It is a sad reflection of the current state of affairs that this observation appears primed to be an accurate prediction of the future, rather than just a frustrated peace negotiator venting his frustration.
Ugh why must I be such a fuckup all the time.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to say on this topic all day; it’s been discussed to comedic effect on Facebook and Twitter, amongst the people...