More on Israel-Gaza

24 thoughts on “More on Israel-Gaza”

  1. Having yielded to the tendency to support one side over the other, I had decided that Israel’s case ought to prevail over that of the Arabs. Abandoning any attempt to unsnarl the Gordian knot of who squatted on the land first and British unfairness in partitioning, I reasoned this principally on two observations:

    1. Hamas intentionally targets the Israeli civilian population, whereas Israel has taken the unprecedented (so far as I know) step of trying to warn civilians prior to striking launch sites and tunnels.
    2. Hamas has consistently refused to accept any possibility of compromise and insisted on the unrealistic goal of completely eliminating the state of Israel.

    Now, however, I am wavering, even though a position of “a pox on both their houses” is unnatural to me. A contributing last straw was a column by one of my favorite columnists this morning, Gene Lyons. He ended by saying,

    For that matter, reverse the polarities. Imagine that Hamas had the tanks, bombers, the destroyers and cruise missiles, and that those were, well, any ethnic group you can think of, herded into a vast slum under heavy bombardment with their POW tunnels and popgun rockets?
    Never mind the endless quibbling over who started what. You might cry out, “For the love of God, show some pity!”
    I wonder if Netanyahu understands how many Americans — his greatest allies — have begun to reconsider their unwavering support in the face of this merciless slaughter?
    Longer term, Israel’s is a policy born of desperation. Given birthrates, it may have to choose between being a “Jewish state” or a democracy. Soon enough, there will be more Arabs than Jews in Israel. And then what?
    Meanwhile, as Peter Beinart writes in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “Hamas’ great ally is despair.” Because the more brutally a people are beaten down, the more desperate and fanatical they become.

    A pox on both their houses. (And I still think that religious hatred is the prime obstacle to resolution.)

    1. I’m probably repeating myself to say Israel started losing me when they started building illegal settlements in the West Bank.

      As to your first point, it has seemed to me that (a) the Iron Dome is doing an excellent job of protecting Israelis and (b) the death toll alone tells you Israel’s “warnings” to Gaza civilians are virtually worthless. Regarding your second point, my understanding has been that most recently all Hamas has asked for is an end to the bombing and a lifting of the fishing blockade. In any case, while Hamas may want Israel gone, the civilians of Gaza are not responsible for that and deserve decent, safe living conditions.

      “A pox on both their houses” was my neutral position as recently as the first of July. It cracked the day an Israeli gunboat killed those four boys playing soccer on the beach. They’d gone there to escape the shelling in the city, they were all from the same family, and they were playing soccer just like my grandkids.

      And of course we’ve since learned that the three Israeli boys who were supposedly killed by Hamas and triggered all this were not, as Netanyahu contended, killed by Hamas. And that the killing of two Israeli soldiers and kidnapping of one that broke the latest ceasefire was likely not, as Netanyahu contended, the work of Hamas. So the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza’s schools, hospitals, shelters, power plant, and homes continues — while Netanyahu says he just wants to destroy the tunnels. How does surface bombing destroy tunnels?

      I’m way, way past being neutral on this.

      1. As am I. I no longer have any sympathy for the Jewish state whatsoever, Bin Laden rejoiced at the slaughter of 3 thousand or so innocent men/women on the 11th Sept 2001 and I get the feeling that Netanyahu is doing the same over the murder of nearly 2 thousand and rising Palestinians in 2014.

        I doubt though that the United States will send in it’s SEALS to take care of Netanyahu as they did Bin Laden, the lives of the Palestinians are not of the same worth as Americans.

        Netanyahu is a war criminal and time the US treated him and his cohorts as such; to hell with the Jewish lobby groups and their money in the US of A. Its time to show the leadership that the US continually assures the rest of the world is theirs alone, time to show that they worthy of the title.

        I hate to think where this world would now be if the English had “chickened out” on the 3rd September 1939 and hid behind a blanket of neutrality

      2. I can’t imagine why Netanyahu is continuing this wanton slaughter. Hamas is an idea. The more innocent Palestinians he kills, the stronger it becomes. And he’s beginning to lose support from the West. It angers me that he would take so much aid from the U.S. and use it this way, and it angers me that we continue to support him. We could stop this in short order by suspending that support.

      3. Unfortunately, as long as we extend the right to vote to the stupid, American government will reflect an element of stupidity, as anyone who watches Rupert Murdoch’s television stations or reads his newspapers already knows.

        On the brighter side, the Wilsonian imperative to force democracy on nations of interest to the United States that do not already have it, which has guided American foreign policy for the last one hundred years, seems to be losing its appeal among the American taxpayers, and consequently among the few remaining members of Congress who are not owned by major American business enterprises.

        Moreover. the notion of the U.S. as the world’s moral guardian never has been President Obama’s favorite (all political rhetoric aside) because, ultimately, he is an intensely pragmatic man who sees the absurdity of it.

      4. I’ve never thought it was right or logical to try to impose our idea of government or “democracy” on any other nation. No two nations are alike. Other nations need to figure out for themselves what kind of government is best for them. And it’s insanely egotistical for us to act like we are better than everyone else. The phrase “American exceptionalism” makes me sick.

      5. Agreed with what you say here – only the majority of citizens a really aren’t as arrogant as politicians who apparently think we should tell other countries how to run their lives and government
        (except that phrase – what does it mean these days and who keeps using it? I haven’t heard this except out of politicians, political parties, and DC …definitions keep changing, so who knows…
        I do know this country was started under unique circumstances – not all religious even – just a place for personal responsibility, reap rewards of your own labors, a place to escape an individual’s past, where classes were not supposed to be rigid, supposedly with freedom of speech..although even then…and belief that an educated population was necessary for success so free education.and with a path for the country itself to improve itself as society and attitudes changed. A great deal based on seeing how European governments succeeded and failed with their governmental patterns. Few countries started with these conditions and ideas…..”exceptional” is not the correct word for these)

      6. I suspect the “exceptionalism” may originally have been used in the sense of “different, unlike any other,” which is true when you consider how we began. But I’ve heard a lot of conservative politicians employ it as though it means we’re better than anyone else. See Wikipedia.

      7. Me too. “American exceptionalism” is a conservative/GOP (I guess they are synonymous now) phrase that they throw around in place of the older “love it or leave it” retort. I’m certain they also have found Bible citations to support their view that some people really ARE perfect.

      8. Oh, well, the Bible supports all things conservative. You just have to know where to look for confirmation. It makes life so simple. You don’t have to think so much, or be responsible for anything. Just follow the good book.

      9. I think that the bible is probably the most dangerous book of fairy/fantasy stories ever put together. Too many people believe; them and too many have died as a result of them.

      10. In favor of neutral, and in the spirit of continuing civil debate:

        1. Gaza is said to have the densest population on the face of the earth, so it says something that it can be shelled incessantly, sans iron dome, and not have even more casualties.
        2. When Hamas demanded an end to the bombing and a lifting of the blockade, those were the conditions for a cease-fire and talking, not for an end to their effort to kill as many Jews as possible and drive them out of the Levant. Those objectives remain non-negotiable. When the leader of Hamas was recently interviewed by Charlie Rose (no less), he confirmed that.
        3. War, by definition, always means the abandonment of civil behavior and restraint. “Collateral damage” always results. (Just ask Dick Cheney about shooting shotguns.) There were in the past attempts to outlaw the submarine and the machine gun. The only “successes” I’m aware of in this area, imperfect as they are, are chemical warfare and nuclear warheads. I do believe that Hamas would use them if they had them.
        4. Surface bombing doesn’t destroy tunnels, it’s used to counter-strike rocket launches which are continuing. There have been more than 2,500 of them so far, confirming that this is a proxy war. There are no rocket factories in Gaza. The tunnels are destroyed by planting explosives within them.
        5. By the way, the blockade is not just about fishing. A naval blockade is a much used instrument of war and is a restriction on all shipping. Nothing gets through without inspection. I can’t figure out what those people are eating.

      11. I started a post a couple of days ago about the population density of Gaza, trying to make some sense of the situation there. I got bogged down in the math, but still have the draft. To come soon, maybe.

        I’ve always thought it sad when people speak of the “rules of war.” As if there could be any enforceable rules when you’re busy killing each other. If it’s all out war, you use whatever you have at your disposal to win and/or save yourself. Only the possible consequences, such as retaliation from the rest of the world, hold people or nations in check. I don’t know if Hamas would be crazy enough to use nukes or not. The whole Middle East is such a confused tangle of allegiances, factions, tribes, religions, partnerships, enemies, etc. I frankly don’t see that we have any stake there (other than oil, of course) and wish we’d just get out of the region and leave it to the occupants to settle their own grievances.

        Israel has modern weapons capable of pinpoint targeting. If all they wanted to do was take out rocket launchers, they could do that. They aren’t. They are hitting schools and hospitals even when they been notified repeatedly of their exact locations. I read one article that mention specifically that Israel had started out using pinpoint strikes with missiles and had progressed into using just wide-area indiscriminate bombs. With a change like that, and the amount of damage we are seeing, it’s hard to believe they are making much effort to confine themselves to military targets. I don’t care what they do to Hamas, but I think the collateral damage they are inflicting on the innocent population is unnecessary and unforgivable.

    1. The article makes a point that I try to remember: It is, or used to be, the IDF vs. Hamas, not the Israelis vs. the Palestinians. The armies are fighting each other, not the civilian populations that just want to live their lives. But that’s becoming less true each day, I imagine, as more as more Palestinian civilians are killed.

  2. Regarding war & ethics: everything depends on what you are attempting to accomplish. If you are trying to wipe out the enemy lock, stock, and barrel, then you should do any and every thing you can to destroy them. Anything less is insane.

    If you are trying to “teach them a lesson”, then be careful what lesson you are teaching. Violence has always begat more violence. The results are not likely to change this one time.

    If you are trying to “get even”, then forget it. There’s no such thing.

    1. Does anyone know what Netanyahu is thinking? Spokesmen say Israel wants a demilitarized Gaza. I don’t see how the indiscriminate bombing of Gazans will accomplish that. Sure, they’re destroying tunnels and known stockpiles of rockets. But how will they keep all that from eventually being rebuilt and restocked? Unless they allow Gaza to thrive and prosper in a demilitarized condition, Hamas will rebuild and history will just keep repeating itself.

  3. I’ll wager that with a pair of binoculars you could see the street and house where I grew up back in the 30’s and 40’s just down the river in Barking.

    I must admit I was not game to go up on that giant big wheel thingy when I was in London in 05, they’d have had to drag me on and more importantly carried me off; not sayng I’m a coward but I see no point in being a dead hero.

    Lovely picks Thanks Kate 🙂

      1. It certainly was how the hell did it land up here? I know Im getting on but I didn’t think I was going senile; thanks PT I shall have to cut and paste it into her blog, and just hope it doesnt land up in someboby else’s or one of mine, Think I need a stiff drink after this.

... and that's my two cents