Discussion in 'The Senate Floor' started by Obi-Wan McCartney, Jan 4, 2009.
Ender, really? Capitalizing "Hamas?" Do you write out "LASER" and "SCUBA" too?
I just don't know what else to say anymore. I've said everything I needed to say on this matter in this thread, too often and too explicitly. But did it matter? Did it convince anybody?
This is the modern trench war.
Yes, HAMAS is an acronym (do you say CIA or Cia?). I also say "the Lebanon", Wocky.
You had your choice, you chose poorly and fly an invalid flag of many stars and several stripes that struggles with the language.
I think there always has to be a balanced view and this is obviously sorely lacking in many areas of the press. Israel is clearly the winner in the propaganda war but the Palestinians do not do much to help their own cause. Having said that, I think it is unfair to judge the people of Gaza on their choice of Hamas (I don't capitalise Hamas because I have been told repeatedly on other forums that capitalising is shouting even of it is an acronym!). Yes, we all know from the safe seats that Hamas are a bunch of Islamic fundamentalist thugs who do nothing to further the cause of Palestinian sovereignty on the international stage. However, we should also consider the appalling conditions in Gaza which gave rise to the popularity of bellicose resistance movements such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad and others in the first place.
Hamas is a resistance group that happened to run for elected office because it had the opportunity to do so. This opportunity arose because (a) Arafat died (b) Fatah and the PA did nothing to ease the suffering of Gazans and were represented in Gaza by corrupt officials (c) Hamas focused on providing much needed aide to the people in Gaza who were (are) suffering from the effects of the Israeli occupation/blockade (d) Hamas provided a platform for armed resistance which gave the Gazans some vestige of hope. If you turn back the clock, there were a few Jewish versions of Hamas when the tables were turned and the Jews in Mandate Palestine considered the British to be the occupiers.
When you read the innumerable reports which have been published by human rights organisations on the conditions in Gaza caused by the Israeli occupation and then the blockade (many of which have been posted in this thread) then it is hardly surprising that an organisation like Hamas will gain popularity among a population suffering a major humanitarian crisis without any prospect of international intervention. I would challenge anybody living in those conditions to not support the likes of Hamas. Hamas is quite simply the creation of mass despair. That despair is caused by Israel and its complete disregard for international law.
So whilst it is a fair question to ask what percentage of Palestinians support Hamas vs the PA, I would argue that the conditions have historically been dramatically worse in Gaza compared to the West Bank (according to the various UN and international human rights studies) and so it is not necessarily a fair comparison, as clearly the Gazans have different needs from their elected officials and so they support a "freedom" movement which promises armed resistance against the "evil" occupiers.
In terms of how many Palestinian fatalisties were the result of Israel instigating conflict, that is a diffcult one, although there are some good stats in Nornal Finkelstein's excellent book Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (2005) which I don't have handy to quote from. From a causation perspective, the violence is a classic cycle. Israel regularly drops bombs in residential areas of Gaza for the purposes of carrying out political assassinations. These operations involve levelling an entire building with the predictable results that women and children are killed. This represents a facet of Israel's policy of collective punishment. The militants then respond. Israel then responds in kind and drops more bombs (on UN installations as well). The militants then respond. Israel then declares "enough is enough" and puts troops on the ground. How did this vicious cycle start? I guess you can go all the way back to the creation of Israel and the Six Day War to answer that one. In relation to Gaza, Israel is in violation of more UN SC Resolutions than any other nation. Causation on a death by death basis is probably very hard to determine, but the fundamental question is: why are armed resistance groups firing rockets into Israel in the first place? What is the cause of this action? I don't think it is controversial to say that Israel's failure to comply with UN SC Resolution 242 is a good starting point.
In terms of how Israel should deal with Hamas, I think the Hamas charter is largely irrelevent. Yes, its full of "push the Jews into the sea" kind of rubbish but that is what you would expect from an armed resistance movement. Consider the charter of the Likud Party. The Likud charter does not say "drive the Palestinians into the sea", but it's pretty close - it outrightly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian state "west of the Jordan river" and advocates the Israeli settlement of the West Bank and Gaza despite the operation of international law which explicitly invalidates the acquisition of territory through war. The ideological foundation of Likud can be traced back to Menachm Begin and the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) whose charter is not much different to that of Hamas. Has Netanyahu or Sharon proven themselves any less militant or extreme than Hamas, despite the wording in their respective 'charters'? Israel should deal with Hamas like it deals with the PA and should not continually hide behind the Hamas 'charter' whenever it does not feel like negotiating in good faith. Yes, Israel is in a tough position because of the rocket attacks, but those rocket attacks are a direct result of Israeli policy. If the policy changes so will the need to fire rockets.
Just as an aside, I take issue with the 'rocket attack/type of rocket' graphic posted by rogue as it does not seem to mention the Qassam rocket which represents the overwhelming majority of rockets fired by Hamas. I would also suggest that a proportion of the Palestinian death statistics are probably from Qassam rockets blowing up prematurely rather than from IDF fire. Qassam rockets are home made and are notoriously unreliable.
I would also encourage everyone to read this article which critically reviews the IDF statitistics:
The issue, LoH, is that you haven't accounted for why Israel's occupation and repression of Gaza takes place. It's tempting, but dishonest and intellectually lazy, for large numbers of people to pretend that it's because Israel are thugs but let's rise above that for the moment.
You cannot pretend that the Palestinians have not provoked Israel into responding. Israel's responses should be condemned in the context of failing the proportionality test more than anything else; the steady flow of weapons, cash and intelligence from Iran and Syria provided a very real national security threat that they had to manage.
Israel would not repress the Palestinian people if it did not feel there was a viable threat to national security; the Palestinians would have less tolerance for things that constitute a threat to Israeli security if they were not under occupation and repressed.
I still can't see a side to blame here.
I don't think the issue is "blame" so much (though I certainly blame Israel for stupid **** like settlements and extremely disproportionate responses), or at least not for the origins of the conflict. It's that Israel is "white," "Western" (though not technically), and "civilized" faced against nonwhite, Muslim "barbarians." It's that on the international stage, despite token appointments of Palestine to so-and-so UN commission, both sides are not given equal consideration. It's that Israel is a much more powerful entity than the Palestinian territories-- in terms of wealth, international support, and the fact that it's actually a state. It's that the West Bank and Gaza especially are constantly at Israel's mercy, relying on their neighbor's humanitarian whims to even let ships into their ports. Blame seems irrelevant to me when one side has warplanes and nukes and one of the best militaries on the planet and the other is lobbing a (relative) few rockets while broadcasting some anti-Semitic Sesame Street knockoff.
I think the motivation for Israel's occupation and repression of Gaza is rather fluid but at its core is the desire for Israel to prolong the conflict for the purposes of building settlements in the West Bank. In terms of the more recent intensity of the violence it is simply because the Gazans voted in Hamas and now they are being punished for that decision. But let's not forget that Israel had occupied Gaza since 1967 and only withdrew as an occupying force in 2005. Settlement activity in Gaza only ceased after that withdrawal but Sharon replaced the occupation with a blockade, which brought about the election of Hamas. Clearly, it is Israeli government policy not to completely relinquish all of the territory it acquired after the Six Day War despite UN Resolutions to the contrary. The security situation in Gaza became untenable so the settlement policy has shifted to the West Bank, but to keep the US and its allies on side, Israel needs a continuing security crisis to distract the world from the expanding settlement program in the West Bank. As the Palestinians in the West Bank unhelpfully voted in secular and moderate leadership, Israel now relies upon Gaza and Hamas to continue the 'threat of imminent destruction' which justifies Israel's utter disregard for international law.
I am not saying that I support Hamas. I oppose Hamas with a vengeance Nor do I consider the Palestinians to be blameless. Clearly they are not. Both sides share blame in their inability to resoilve the conflict. All that I am saying is that the current conflict in Gaza stems from the events of the Six Day War in 1967. Israel has no right to control Gaza nor build settlements in the West Bank but it continues nevertheless. The fundamental causes of the conflict could be addressed if Israel was committed to a two state solutiuon based upon pre-1967 borders as per Resolutiuon 242. They are not and nobody on the international stage is going to force them to comply. So long as a commitment to settlement building in the West Bank continues, Israel cannot have peace. In order to maintain its 'victim' pose and prolong peace resoltions indefinitely, it keeps a stanglehold on Gaza to ensure international support. So long as Hamas are firing rockets, Israel can continue to build settlements. It's that simple.
So, Guy, in short; 1) you sympathise with one side over the other, and 2) you haven't read Edward Said's work on "othering" in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict but you are nonetheless familiar with the core ideas?
I like to think I tend to sympathize with the oppressed over the oppressor, yes. But in some ways it's like saying I sympathize with Muslims upset with caricatures of Muhammad over the idiot privileged Europeans and Americans who produce such things to deliberately antagonize. Yeah, sure, technically, but I no likee violent riots over cartoons or Hamas or any of that.
And no, I haven't read his work. If I adopted his ideas, I must have come across them from another source.
No no that wasn't a dig - Said is a wonderfully erudite writer who poked fun at Bibi once when the latter, in his capacity as Israel's UN ambassador, refused to be interviewed in the same studio as Said because he felt his safety wasn't assured. Look at Said interviews and you will see this is laughable.
But Said raised the same points as you about Othering the Palestinians for the same reasons; it's interesting you have the same conclusions.
The issue I have is that I think it's too simplistic to label Israel as oppressor and the Palestinians as the oppressed. The relationship is more dynamic and mult-faceted than that and whilst the Palestinian people unarguably suffer, their fate is as much the playthings of Arabs who care nothing for their cause but who want Israel gone as it is the IDF and Knesset's.
That's notwithstanding the cruel self-harm inflicted by radical Palestinian groups on the wider population with respect of rocket attacks into Israel.
Making it a good guy/bad guy dynamic only serves to perpetuate a conflict that owes it's longevity to the stubborn refusal of both sides to hear what they're saying.
There is also a stubborn refusal of both sides to acknowledge the other as 'victim'. Said had plenty to say on that as well.
Ender, I think you are giving too much import to the terms "oppressed" and "oppressor." It does not, for instance, preclude the fact that the cause of Palestinian suffering is multi-factorial. Nor does it paint the Palestinians as innocent victims. It does acknowledge that the conflict is highly asymmetric (on and off the battlefield), and that the more powerful of the two has not hesitated to take advantage of said asymmetry on a regular basis, including in fashions which are not particularly defensible.
The only people I sympathize with are innocent people who get killed, injured, or displaced in these attacks. And right now, more of those are Palestinians than Israelis.
None of your arguments actually make the Palestinians any less oppressed, or the Israeli government less oppressive.
And nothing you've said goes beyond the indifferent but vapid act of conspicuous caring in the West. It's like an ongoing Kony2012 - you'll talk the talk but have no interest in the conflict being resolved.
Or - put yourselves in Israel's shoes. A nation born out of centuries of persistent oppression themselves (which you would think would give them more empathy, but that's another story) surrounded by foes. As soon as Israel is declared a state, the only declared war since WWII erupts as Arabs try and wipe you out. They try again in 1967 and on it's own, Israel manages to fight off much larger armies.
Israel's mentality is warped, almost, due to geopolitical factors and until they feel secure sharing land with the Palestinians, they're never going to work towards a two state solution which is, in my view (and perhaps yours), the only just solution.
The Palestinians, too, are such a woeful, wretched people. They're regarded as crude, unsophisticated brutes by large chunks of the Arab and Persian world. Almost nobody except the Palestinians actually cares about the Palestinian plight. Plenty pretend to, but like Iraq's Kurds they are used to further another agenda and discarded as too burdensome.
See, the issue gets clouded because whilst Israel's response is disproportionate it is always in retaliation to rocket and similar attacks from Palestinian militants. Who conveniently bring me to my next point.
The main supporters, from a materiel and monetary point of view, of the Intifadah has been Iran, with Syria following a close second. Both have a vested interest in weakening Israel - Iran from an ideological position first and foremost (but also from a geopolitical standpoint); Syria largely I suspect due to the losses from the '67 war but also with a heavy ideological influence. Iranian Pasdaran agents have consistently been encouraging and facilitating guerilla strikes by Palestinian militants on Israeli targets and they do so knowing it is to the detriment of the Palestinian cause. Because, the payoff is a ham fisted response from Israel.
This of course appears to ignore the fact that the Palestinian people are victimised by Israel, their own radicals, and Iranian/Syrian agents provocateur. However, there's two points to consider here which don't make it any less true, but are nonetheless important;
1) They're more or less positioned to ensure it continues by keeping HAMAS in office;
2) Like after 9/11, the Bali Bombings, the London Bombings, the post-cartoon Mohammed riots - the moderate voice is drowned out of the discourse to the point of not even registering anymore.
I don't however want to suggest that the Palestinians are the key to resolving this. They're not, at least not on their own.
Looking back to the 90's, there was a period where peace seemed possible. The issue is that radicals have a vested interest in there not being a two-state, peaceful solution (Rabin, after all, fell to a Jew's bullet). Talking about who is more bloody or more oppressive or more cowardly, or more this or that boils down to a lack of listening, a lack of understanding, and a lack of desire to push things forward.
And so long as either side feels the world is cheering them on whilst booing the other side, it legitimises their tactics and makes a cessation of hostilities even further away. Israel's not going to back down until they feel safe and secure. Nor should they.
The Palestinians aren't going to back down until they feel there's a fair shot at autonomous statehood. Nor should they.
Ender I agree with much of what you say, but note how this started. Not with the rockets, but with an execution. Which, as Israel knew, would be answered with rockets. The current conflict was provoked by Israel, with Hamas a willing Pavlov's dog. And as always, the Palestinian people are the victim.
How to fix it?
I think Hamas' rule of Gaza is wrong. It should be policed and administered by UN forces. If you let people who have suffered decades of oppression vote, there's a good chance you're going to get revolutionaries at the helm, and it will prolong the conflict.
I think Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Israeli control of Gaza borders are wrong, because they fly in the face of humanitarian rights and international war law, and thus prolong the conflict.
Hamas out of Gaza, Israel out of the West Bank, Gaza border policed by the UN. We can wrap this up before lunch.
Ender, not talking about who is more bloody doesn't change the fact that more Palestinians are being killed and injured. It makes us feel better to not have to think about large scores of human beings being killed, but ignoring the fact that one side is killing more civilians doesn't move us forward.
Way to miss the point, Vivec. But it's ok, people like you have been ignoring the complex history and competing interests in there since the Intifadah began and you found yet another trendy cause you could hitch your wagon to and show everyone just how much you care. If only someone could so wonderfully oversimplify the conflict to the same dizzying heights as Kony2012, you would probably need a new monitor, having conspicuously cared all over it.
Vivec, thank you for letting people in the thread know you're taking the superficial approach and can be dismissed out of hand as largely irrelevant. Suggest you take a leaf out of Watto's book.
Speaking of - Watto - I don't disagree with anything you said in that last post. The only logistical hurdle this approach faces - and it's dauntingly large - is how to deal with the extremists. The Palestinian radicals will continue their fight so long as Iran (and less so now, Syria) continue to pump them with arms and money. The radical Jews will continue to settle in controversial areas and threaten moderate politicians and leaders with violence (after Rabin, this should not be ignored) or to pull their support out of the fractious coalition them and 400 other parties have joined to help make government in the Knesset...
Actually, in that context, Israel's position is more vulnerable/insecure than first appears. No more or less so than the moderate Palestinians. Hmmmm.
Yes, this is clearly only a trendy cause for me, and probably has nothing to do with the fact that I have friends and family scattered throughout the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. Oh wait.
So yeah, I'll continue to "ignore complex history" by stating the verifiable fact that more Palestinian innocents have been killed in this conflict. If that makes me irrelevent in the eyes of another message board user whose sphere of influence does't exceed hos room, that is alright with me. Because I do care. I may look soft in your eyes for that, but we all can't be sociopaths who've never cared about the well being of anyone.
Except... there's caring so you can be seen to be compassionate whilst doing nothing (basically it's about your personal branding and nothing else), and there's caring.
In short, if you truly cared, you'd note that a large portion of Palestinian deaths are due to interference from interests who, like you, use the Palestinians for their own selfish ends. They didn't pull any proverbial triggers; they just lined the ducks up for the Israelis to do. And you more or less cheered them on.
What you fail to realise is that the situation is largely outside the control of the apparent principals and as such every single death on either side is pointless, avoidable, tragic, and unfair. No life is worth any more or less than the other over there, and yet somehow you are claiming from the top of your ivory tower, that victims in your cause celebre are inherently worth more than other victims and that for making this arbitrary distinction, you are more rounded as a human being.
You think about that for a second, Vivec. No, that's too soon. Keep thinking.
EDIT: And no, you don't look soft in my eyes for "caring" (because let's face it, you cynically don't). You look soft for being lead by the nose on a contentious issue and allowing your reason to be surrendered for cheap and feigned indignation. I could mash up something about being a sheep and wool from your eyes, but I've already hammered the point home, I think.
The execution (a term I have issues with, I prefer assassination) of Ahmed Jabari was in response to nearly a week of continuous rocket attacks. Obviously Israel knew it would be answered by more rocket attacks, because they were already being attacked with rockets.
Of course. Israel has more military hardware and technology. It's terrible about the innocent Palestinian casualties and I take deep issue with Israel's indiscriminate attacks in such a densely populated area such as Gaza. But let's not pretend that Hamas and other militant groups brought this upon Gaza with their attacks.
Everyone in Israel and Palestine must be suffering from PTSD and worse.
And I don't see these terrors ending under current Israeli leadership. Netanyahu and his allies need to go.
And I don't know what is less likely: Hamas falling out of political power, or that that entire organization (and most importantly the people that elected them) having a change of heart.
It's sad, but I've really become numb to this whole conflict. It's so broken, and I don't have any hope that it will be fixed anytime soon. The people just keep suffering and dying, being terrorized and then lashing out so even more suffer and die. On both sides. What a tragic cycle. And peace just keeps looking less and less likely.
Can you clarify your point here?
On Hamas bringing it upon themselves? Just a month ago, militants had fired nearly 80 rockets into Israel on one day alone. In the weeks leading up to Israel's attacks on Gaza they'd launched many more rockets including 100 in one day just a week ago, all of this before Israel's killing of Jabari.
Right, understood. I think I broadly agree that HAMAS have brought this upon the Palestinians (to a point; Iran gets some of the blame as does Israel for failing the proportionality test) but your wording said "But let's not pretend that Hamas and other militant groups brought this upon Gaza with their attacks."
As in, brought it upon, not didn't bring it upon...