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Suicidal lies (NYT)
April 1, 2002 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Suicidal lies (NYT) "The Palestinians are so blinded by their narcissistic rage that they have lost sight of the basic truth civilization is built on: the sacredness of every human life, starting with your own. All they can agree on as a community is what they want to destroy, not what they want to build. Have you ever heard Mr. Arafat talk about what sort of education system or economy he would prefer, what sort of constitution he wants? No, because Mr. Arafat is not interested in the content of a Palestinian state, only the contours." (more inside)
posted by semmi (71 comments total)

 
On the one hand, are there any Thomas Friedman op/ed pieces that don’t show up here? On the other, they’re all insightful and discussion-worthy. So here goes.

This article reminded me of last month’s Harper’s cover article on the “historical myth” of the Old Testament. In a nutshell- evidence seems to indicate that the Hebrew people never experienced an epic tale of exile, return, and military conquest. Rather, they were in Israel/Palestine/Canaan more or less the whole time, and grow organically and relatively peacefully into their empire. The narrative of the OT is, instead, an invented history designed to give the Hebrew people credibility in a land where a people’s worth is judged more by military than socio-cultural achievement.

I see the same principle at work here in the Palestinian struggle for independence. As Friedman points out, they have walked away from peaceful, diplomatic solutions in favor of violence, even though the likely end will be the same or less. Is the current situation simply an extension of this tradition of (let’s be honest) machismo? More importantly, what can be done to break the cycle?
posted by mkultra at 8:26 AM on April 1, 2002


i was thinking this morning what the difference was between palestinian suicide bombers and like in vietnam where villagers would approach US soldiers and try to blow them up. or like kamikazes. obviously the immediate difference is they're targetting non-combatants, which makes it terrorism. i think friedman has it right in pointing out that's the distinction where people lose sympathy with them as freedom fighters.
posted by kliuless at 8:27 AM on April 1, 2002


Think about the implications of this e-mail I just received from honest reporting.com

On March 27, a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance driver was caught transporting an explosive belt containing 10 kilograms of explosives of the type detonated by suicide bombers, Israel Radio reported. The ambulance was stopped and searched between Nablus and Ramallah, and
soldiers found the explosive belt under a stretcher upon which a Palestinian boy was lying. The boy's family was with him in the ambulance.

The ambulance driver told interrogators he received the belt from a senior Tanzim activist working for Palestinian Authority West Bank security chief Marwan Barghouti.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was "shocked and dismayed" and "condemns such abuse of an ambulance and of the Red
Crescent emblem."


Ultimately, the question is: do you want people to have a country who either stage this type of activity, or condone it?

Would the sane Palestinians step up to the plate, please?!
posted by ParisParamus at 8:34 AM on April 1, 2002


Speaking of myths, I don't understand the idea that Palestinians have chosen suicide bombing over other means of change. Sure, a group of militant people who are Palestinian have chosen this approach, but they don't necessarily speak for the majority.

I don't have any sympathy for the bombers themselves, but I have a great deal of sympathy for the Palestinian people.
posted by jragon at 8:39 AM on April 1, 2002


Unfortunately for everyone involved, they do speak for a majority, jragon. From the latest PCPSR opinion poll:
Level of (hypothetical) support for different types of armed attacks remain high: 92% for attacks against soldiers, 92% for attacks against settlers, and 58% for attacks against civilians inside Israel
posted by boaz at 8:49 AM on April 1, 2002


jragon, that’s a good point, but there’s an utter lack of a Palestinian voice for peaceful resolution. I don’t doubt that most Palestinians (or anyone for that matter) just want to be able to go about their daily lives without intrusion, but the PLO and its affiliates have monopolized Palestinian political views. Why are there no Palestinian leaders stepping up and condemning this agenda? Why does the rest of the Arab world, in supporting a Palestinian state, not do so?
posted by mkultra at 8:53 AM on April 1, 2002


Thanks boaz, that's a good link. I made a point to add "necessarily" in my comments above, and I'm glad I did.

Although it's worth noting some other numbers : 71% support an immediate return to negotiations, and 52% agree with Colin Powell's comments. And then they turn around and support the killing of innocent Jews.

Why does the rest of the Arab world, in supporting a Palestinian state, not do so? I think it's all about pride at this point. After the history between these two groups of people, being strong and stepping away from "eye for an eye" thinking makes you look weak to your people.
posted by jragon at 9:11 AM on April 1, 2002


Two ideas:

First, I wonder why Palestinian suicide bombers are young? You'd think their age distribution would parallel the population.

Last, much comes down to defining terms.

Occupied Palestine, to an Israeli, is the land conquered in the 1967 war. To a Palestinian, it is all the land before Israel existed.

Peace, to an Israeli, is being left alone, secure, without fear of personal or military attack. Peace to a Palestinian is not a goal in and of itself; it is a tactic, a pause between other means to recover Occupied Palestine. True peace may come when Palestine is free of Jews.

You may joke about Arafat being a closet Jew (not especially funny), but he started as a guerilla fighter willing to use terror as a weapon in pursuit of victory. I was willing to trust that he grew out of this, changed his views, considered coexistence a practical matter. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize helped.

Sadly, I no longer believe.
posted by evanwolf at 9:22 AM on April 1, 2002


This is possibly the weakest of Friedman's recent op-eds: its shrillness undermines the impact of its good points. And there are a few. (I'd start with the second step of his four-step plan and work forward: it's obvious that step one isn't working.) But his opening arguments fail on all sorts of grounds. False premises, begging questions, etc etc. It's bad, overwrought writing.

Have you ever heard Mr. Arafat talk about what sort of education system or economy he would prefer, what sort of constitution he wants? No, because Mr. Arafat is not interested in the content of a Palestinian state, only the contours.

Appeal to exceptionalism, based upon a false premise. How many of Israel's founders talked about the education system of a Jewish state before 1948? Did the founding fathers of the US decide upon the constitution of the breakaway colonies in July 1776? No: they wanted the contours of the state before the context.

Let's be very clear: Palestinians have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation. This threatens all civilization because if suicide bombing is allowed to work in Israel, then, like hijacking and airplane bombing, it will be copied and will eventually lead to a bomber strapped with a nuclear device threatening entire nations. That is why the whole world must see this Palestinian suicide strategy defeated.

Begging the question. The first sentence is opinion presented as fact. The second sentence is treated as a logical conclusion of the self-evident first, but is simply vaguely-worded opinion based upon opinion: in fact, it's the 'gateway drug' argument, as much a piece of reckless scaremongering as the Drug War. The third sentence is an appeal to universality, in an attempt to disguise the fact that it's pure opinioneering. Also, to describe suicide bombing as simply 'narcissistic rage' is plain blinkered, now that it looks more and more like the end of 20 years' personal animus between Arafat, who now has the stature of a caged rat, and Sharon, who in his growing megalomania looks like an extra from Dr Strangelove.
posted by riviera at 9:22 AM on April 1, 2002


hey, just saw these stories on yahoo:
Muslims Split Over Suicide Bombers
Israel Under Fire as Islamic Nations Define Terror

i think another distinction that becomes terribly (sorry) important is the idea of "structural violence" and the case palestinians are trying to make, "state terrorism." while both also affect non-combatants, the perception of state terrorism in its functioning is more focused, planned and coordinated. structural violence is more diffuse, generally lending from gender, religious, ethnic or class differences.
posted by kliuless at 9:23 AM on April 1, 2002


Appeal to exceptionalism, based upon a false premise. How many of Israel's founders talked about the education system of a Jewish state before 1948?


Probably quite a lot, since the founders of Israel were left-leaning democratic socialists. They probably talked about something highly secular; sort of what they were used to in Europe, where, religious instruction would be secondary.

On the other hand, we can observe what goes on in the Territories in terms of education. And in the Nations the PA considers its friends. It's a horrible, tragic picture.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:41 AM on April 1, 2002


and Sharon, who in his growing megalomania looks like an extra from Dr Strangelove.

How does Ariel Sharon's response diverge from that of the American response, taking into account that Afghanistan is 1/2 a world away, and not next door? What would a "non-Dr. Strangelove" being doing right now? I think Peres should be doing the same thing. Barak, too. Bibi would have probably reoccupied the entire West Bank.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:45 AM on April 1, 2002


I wonder what Friedman would say about this: Japanese Activist Commits Suicide

A Japanese campaigner for Palestinian rights committed suicide by setting himself on fire in a Tokyo park to protest the Israeli security clampdown in the Middle East, a fellow activist said Monday.
posted by cell divide at 9:50 AM on April 1, 2002


I suspect he would say what a dellusional a-hole. But at least someone who only killed himself.

That article raises a good point, however: these are more Kamikazes(sp?) than suicide bombers.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:58 AM on April 1, 2002


That's about what I thought, Paris.

On another note, did anyone see this story (it was also on the front page of the NY Post on Sunday): Brooklyn Man Dines with Arafat in Besieged Compound
posted by cell divide at 10:02 AM on April 1, 2002


Friedman 4/30 CNN interview transcript. He described his personal feelings, and his dialogue process with the Saudis. I have just received an e-mail from a Jewish friend concerned that the peace advocates at Tikkun do not agree on the best path forward. He urges Americans to remember that Jerusalem Indymedia attempts to offer an English-language Palestinian viewpoint. I am heartened that so many Jews are still able to come forward to say that they don't hate the Palestinians, even under these very sad circumstances.
posted by sheauga at 10:13 AM on April 1, 2002


yeah, i read about that on that scroll bar thingie CNN has on tv. reading the NY post article, it seems like shapiro is a hero!

um, i dunno about dr. strangelove, but there is something vaguely manchurian candidate and cyranoid ("build a borg") about it all, though :)
posted by kliuless at 10:14 AM on April 1, 2002


Dear Mr. Arafat: a note. You are at present trapped in your compound. You may be sent into exile. In any case, you have made it clear by your trickery that you do not want to return to the negotiating table because thus far you have failed to say loud and clear to all parties concerned that the terror must stop this minute and there should be a return to the peace table.
You have a choice! You can become a "martyr"--I seriously doubt this will happen. And if you do (or do not) unless the peace quickly comes about, you stand a good chance of dying (age) before there is a Palestinian State. You are likely to die without seeing this state and whoever is running things when this state comes into being will be the father, founder of the Palestinian State. You will be a footnote that notes you tried to play a double game but Israel did not go under and your course of action did not prevail
Do you want to be remembered as the guy who became the first leader of a new State? Or simply as a guy caught up in his compound, loudly calling Israel and the United States names and sounding like a silly old man who brought about what he now faces?
I know, as a guy older than you, which course makes more sense. But I am not in any position to do what I would do were I you.
posted by Postroad at 10:18 AM on April 1, 2002


I am e-mailing this Mefi thread to Arafat's Blackberry. I will post his response...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:26 AM on April 1, 2002


Arafat responds: SHUT UP AND GO BACK TO PARAMUS.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:27 AM on April 1, 2002


I think it is only a matter of time before Israel stops pulling punches. Recent events have already seen a more aggressive response to the suicide bombings.

At some point they (Israel) is going to be pushed beyond the thresh hold of restraint and it is going to go very badly for the Palestinian people.

Then Israel will have a lot more territory than they got in 1967, and they won't have anyone to give it back to, so they will keep it.

I just keep wondering how involved US forces will get when it reaches the crux moment.

It is sad that the Palestinians on a whole appear to be supporting the current actions of the few. Maybe that is just the media spin? I would hope that somewhere in there, there is a group of people who will be able to pull this whole thing from the ashes, because ashes are all that will be left if things stay on their current path.
posted by a3matrix at 10:51 AM on April 1, 2002


Let us see.

Israel: Fighter Jets, Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, Latest Machine Guns, Blatantly Deceiving Media stronghold.

Palestine: Men, Women, Bomb Belts, Kids With Rocks, Some Machine Guns

Sounds unfair, but I say every thing is fair in love and war. Sharon says its a war. Arafat says its a war (or struggle whatever).

Israel is an Occupier. Palestine is fighting the occupation. OR
Palestine is Terrorist. Israel is Fighting a war.

WHY DO THESE @#$@#$@#$ CRY WHEN THERE PEOPLE ARE DYING ???

Kudos to the suicide bombers. Kudos to Israeli Army.

Let the show go on. This problem is rooted in religious believes. Atleast THIS war is religious. Its all about Jerusalem folks. Here free masons are waiting for the Wall to fall so they can rebuild the temple. The Jews are waiting for the wall to fall so that the real Messiah can come down. (They dont believe Christ was the real Messiah). The Muslims are waiting for all this to happen because they believe that after resurruction, Islam will spread.

This is history in the making folks. Where is my pop corn.

For all those who dont get it .. .


posted by adnanbwp at 10:59 AM on April 1, 2002


The above was sarcasm.
posted by adnanbwp at 11:00 AM on April 1, 2002


Here's a link to video of the internatonal demonstrators (such as the guy whose story I linked above) protesting in Bethlehem and getting shot at by tanks. The tanks appear to be aiming at the demonstrator's feet (the priveleges of being international?) but still 6 were injured.
posted by cell divide at 11:05 AM on April 1, 2002


I am e-mailing this Mefi thread to Arafat's Blackberry. I will post his response...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:26 AM PST on April 1

Arafat responds: SHUT UP AND GO BACK TO PARAMUS.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:27 AM PST on April 1

Is that supposed to be a joke? You can't just keep to an argument based on the facts? Maybe you should take the fictional advice.
posted by anapestic at 11:10 AM on April 1, 2002


evan, to answer some of your questions about who becomes a human bomb, how, and why, read An Arsenal of Believers from the New Yorker. (You can find a different perspective in Gaza Diary from Harper's.)

The short answer is that they are not random individuals who self-select and stop off at Bomb World on their way into Haifa, but rather carefully recruited by a suicide-bomb cell for their psychological stability mixed with the malleability to become essentially a kamikaze soldier, as well as other factors such as the ability to mix easily with Jews or avoid close scrutiny. The various cells and factions have a division of labor and strategy, whether by ideology or coordination being an arguable question.

One could debate the questions of Palestinian desperation and whether one chooses or is forced into a guerrilla strategy well into the night, but there really can't be any doubt that the military wings of the PLO are composed of serious people who have thought long and hard about their strategy and have proceeded by what they see as necessity. They don't have tanks, so they use terror. Is it really worthwhile debating why they attack civilians? They attack civilians. This really isn't open to debate. What is open to debate is whether we consider that morally unacceptable -- or the ultimate in the argumentum ad misericordiam (see the familiar classic form).
posted by dhartung at 12:26 PM on April 1, 2002


Here's something I don't get, can anyone point me to a news source that reports how many Palestinians have been killed in Ramallah? So far I have yet to see one on the evening news, but then this ap photo shows people stacking up corpses. What gives?
posted by cell divide at 1:30 PM on April 1, 2002


From about halfway down this article,

"At least 15 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers had been killed in Ramallah since Friday.... In addition, witnesses and Palestinian officials said Israeli soldiers opened fire on and killed five policeman Sunday when as the Palestinians tried to surrender in Ramallah."

It worries me that the Israeli army is kicking the media out of Ramallah. What do they have to hide?
posted by shylock at 2:33 PM on April 1, 2002


It's unfortunate that the quality and intellectual rigor of the NYT op-ed pieces thoroughly deteriorate when it comes to this issue. The abstraction of "terrorism" from its root cause will be the scourge of the nation of Israel as long as it fails to appropriate a political solution that considers the Palestinians as equal humans. This is a refugee population being forced off their land and into poverty because of their ethnicity. In other places, we call this ethnic cleansing. Our media regularly ignores the fact that homes are bulldozed everyday, that the civilian death toll of the Palestinian people at the hands of the IDF is considerably higher than that of the Israelis at the hands of terrorism. Terrorists don't answer to the Geneva Convention - nor does Israel apparently when it comes to civilian murders. This occupation is illegal according to at least three UN Security Council Resolutions. The Palestinians live in conditions that our privelege and our nation's collective imagination could never allow us to fathom, thankfully. Nevertheless we're the ones who will pay for this in the end. It's our tax money that pays for those weapons that give Israel the choice of not coming to terms with the Palestinians as people and to deny their right to their land. And when you don't treat people as humans, don't expect them to kiss your bulldozers. Too many people will die at the ends of this brutal occupation and its violent political resistance. Blaming the rape victim is easy when you're the rapist isn't it?
posted by aLienated at 2:37 PM on April 1, 2002


I can see only two states in this world, that were carved out in the name of religion. Pakistan and Israel. If one is branded fundamentalist, I can safely say the same about the other.

The treatment in media of the current conflict in the Middle East is shameful, atleast here in the states. Watching European channels, one gets an entirely different picture. Here the journalists ask questions of Palestinians, on live tv, as if they are being asked by Sharon, not by an independant journalist. Telling a Palestinian to have Moral integrity and climb one mountain in the west bank and annouce the end of all suicide attacks is brutally biased. Israeli army, always the responsive party. There is never a mention of number of Palestinians dead. Captions like, Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber infuriate common sense. Every one knows whats in his mind. Why not concentrate and debate real issues.

So called experts on Fox, shamelessly lie and blatantly spin facts, with a familiar smile, that of Bush Junior. That alone, is enough to give birth to a dozen new suicide bombers. If Bush was even half his weight in salt, he should have for once in history, been unbiased and told Sharon to get out of Palestinian territories. The Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims all over the world have been humiliated. What Bin Laden referred to as Muslims being humiliated for the last 80 years, this is another link in the same chain. We will end up paying for this either here in the states or elsewhere.

This is why I am constipated now.

Good Luck.
posted by adnanbwp at 3:06 PM on April 1, 2002


Score: -1 (troll; irrelevant attacks on a single news channel and the president to score policial points; laughable accusations of American media being conservatively biased because it doesn't ask the questions in the way that doesn't fit your own personal ideology)
posted by aaron at 3:14 PM on April 1, 2002


Thanks for the link, shylock. I hadn't seen that nor heard any mention of it on the Nightly News or CNN.
posted by cell divide at 3:15 PM on April 1, 2002


Yeah, cause we all know how much more intellectually rigorous screeching lies, exaggerations and appeals to pity are. A sampler:

This is a refugee population being forced off their land and into poverty because of their ethnicity.

Uh, no. The Palestinians were forced off their land because many of them chose (<--important word alert) to go to war instead of living with neighbors of a different ethnicity. You think if Israel was doing what you said, they would have somehow missed the 1 million Arabs currently living in Israel?

Our media regularly ignores the fact that homes are bulldozed everyday

I can't fathom how this outright lie has become so universally accepted. Yes, houses have gotten demolished, but not everyday, not by a longshot. Tell you what, if you can find a record of a home being demolished even for everyday in the last month, then I'll concede this point.

Terrorists don't answer to the Geneva Convention - nor does Israel apparently when it comes to civilian murders.

This is utterly nonsensical. Terrorists are covered in the Geneva Convention only in that they are classified as 'illegal combatants' and thus exempt from its protections. The Geneva Convention barely mention civilians at all, since it is concerned with the treatment of military personnel not civilians.

And when you don't treat people as humans, don't expect them to kiss your bulldozers.

Those bulldozers again; are they blowing up bulldozers or diners and hotels over there? I'd like to posit that the true dehumanization is found in your unconditional absolution of their actions. After all, the vast majority of people are perfectly capable of moral and ethical choices, and yet, you seem to think that there's no way to expect that from one certain group of people. H.L. Mencken famously said on this subject, 'Blaming crime on poverty is a kind of slur on the poor.'
posted by boaz at 3:38 PM on April 1, 2002


So, if a nation does not have a military, then its citizens can not rise up to an external threat ?

When it comes to Palestinians not wanting to live with a neighbor, one should be ashamed not to have read history.

You tell me. Your country occupied by the British. Albeit there were Arab Jews, Christians and Muslims living together. But then the Occupying army (British) decide to IMPORT refugees from their neighborhood and PLACE them on lands of the NATIVES, under the threat of guns and tanks.

I know I wouldnt accept that if I were a NATIVE. I would fight back. Unlike the forming of Pakistan, where there was genuine pressure on the British to divide the land into two countries, the NATIVES had no such demands in Palestine.

You can not dump what you yourself do not want on other people. That is what happened with the formation of Israel. The Europeans, guilt ridden because of the hollocaust, carved out a state for the Jews. Here you go, lay off us will you.

Now we come to the present day. Now Netanyaho and Sharon says that 1967 borders arent defendable. Are the current borders defensible. I dont see any defending going on. Or is the Israeli government letting these suicide attacks happen to garner support ? I dont think so. The point is, the borders can not be defensive if not applied fairly and with political will of both people. So doesnt this mean that when they occupied these lands in '67, they never meant to return it ?

Now Sharon wants to IMPORT a million Jews from the Russian states. Create more facts on the ground. Why build more settlements, settle them with IMPORTED ZIONISTS, If its a disputed land. If you dont intend to Stay there forever.

If one side is evil, liar, corrupt, has no morals, then the other side is no angel either. The Sharons and Arafats stand in the same gutter.

When spitting on the evildoers, let us be just and spit in an equal amount on both sides.

If it were a troll, you wouldnt have answered. Its easy to call an argument a troll, rather than saying that truth is truth is truth.
posted by adnanbwp at 4:38 PM on April 1, 2002


the vast majority of people are perfectly capable of moral and ethical choices, and yet, you seem to think that there's no way to expect that from one certain group of people.

Could you elaborate on the moral way to fight occupation backed by force ?
posted by adnanbwp at 4:39 PM on April 1, 2002


Could you elaborate on the moral way to fight occupation backed by force ?

The history of India's resistance to colonialism comes to mind immediately. I'm guessing we can at least agree on what is not.
posted by boaz at 4:56 PM on April 1, 2002


I used to have sympathy for the Palestinians, that sympathy has been fading to near extinction since the latest how ever many months of violence, where i can only have sympathy for the Israelis now, due only to the suicide bombings of civilians. That is uncalled for and if the Palestinians stuck to military targets i would still be on their side. After September 11th why is it ok for America to attack another country, but not Israel when they face the same threat?
posted by Zool at 5:02 PM on April 1, 2002


adnanbwp -- start by targeting combattants. Then we'll talk.
posted by clevershark at 5:02 PM on April 1, 2002


After September 11th why is it ok for America to attack another country, but not Israel when they face the same threat?

That's just it...the War on Terrorism, in the US anyway, is not against any specific countries/races/religions. It's against cells that target the US and threaten its national security. The dilemma facing the Middle East is a very different story. The recent attacks are certainly acts of terrorism, but the roots of conflict are not specific cells, to my knowledge.
posted by BlueTrain at 5:07 PM on April 1, 2002


boaz: There can not be a comparison between both of them.

The British were not backed by a super power. Quiet frankly, they were lenient in the use of whatever force they used as compared to the force used by Israel. All Indians (before partition) were part of a democratic process in the country, taking part in successive elections to form governments, however limited that might be. Unlike the British, Israel is not looking for a colony. Israel looks for explusion of the refugees, settling imported Jews in their place and creating false facts on the ground through influx of population.

Also, times have moved on. There was in the British case, a significant voice within the homeland, to keep a checks and balance system running. The voice of the opposition was given due media coverage and in the end the Natives were left on their own. Israel, as I mentioned earlier, is not interested in leaving the natives alone. Israel is staying. A very fundamental difference between Israel and the British.

In the British era, there was still opportunity. Indians went to the England for higher education. Indians of all religions had political independence. The kind one can have under a foreign ruler. I guess what I am trying to say is, there wasnt an all out effort to suppress the will and word of the oppressed with the help of a super power's influence and word.

Comparing the British colonialism with Israeli occupation is like comparing Apples with Oranges.

I think psychologically speaking, the times have changed too. The youth is no longer willing to wait out and get their ass beaten all the time while the rest of the "moral" world watches on or debates the use of peculiar tactics. If some thing works, or they think that it works, they are willing to apply it. There is no way out any ways. There is no hope. You gotta die later out of hunger or a bullet, why not die with a bang. I'm sorry but thats the mentality I hear from Palestinians all the time. Some how, they see death as inevitable. Either by Israeli bullets or by fighting back and killing those who back Israeli bullets.

Unfortunately, this post has also become a You Bad, No You Bad piece. I am too guilty of that.

What can be the solution. The image is biased for sure. Israel is the occupier and they are killing people every day too. The Palestinians on the other hand, seem to have seriously thought out the suicide attacks. And they will keep on going on.

The best way possible is to make both sides accountable. Not taking sides is the best option. If the Israelis refuse to leave the occupied land, they should be sanctioned. NO more American aid for them. And if the Palestinians dont stop suicide bombings, then no more Arab support for them.

And while we are at it, lets quit dreaming about finishind daddy's job and going after Saddam. America has its own bio weapon problem as we have seen through the home grown anthrax attacks. American has its own bio chemical weapons too. And using treated Uranium bombs in Afghanistan is the same as using weapons of mass destruction.
posted by adnanbwp at 5:22 PM on April 1, 2002


clevershark: sorry i didnt understand your reference towards combattants.
posted by adnanbwp at 5:26 PM on April 1, 2002


That's just it...the War on Terrorism, in the US anyway, is not against any specific countries/races/religions. It's against cells that target the US and threaten its national security. The dilemma facing the Middle East is a very different story. The recent attacks are certainly acts of terrorism, but the roots of conflict are not specific cells, to my knowledge.

It's also against governments and countries (like the Taliban in Afghanistan) that harbor or abet terrorists that threaten US national security a pretty significant extension. Consider how successful the American War on Terror would have been without invading Afghanistan or deposing the Taliban before deciding that's the situation you wish to hem Israel into.
posted by boaz at 5:28 PM on April 1, 2002


boaz - "The history of India's resistance to colonialism comes to mind immediately."

That's a great point, and one that doesn't get mentioned nearly enough in this debate. I'd also like to point out the nonviolent pressure used by the anti-communist movements like Solidarity, the anti-apartheid movements in South Africa, and the civil rights activists in the United States, all of which proved to be very successful.

I don't understand why people are still so dismissive of nonviolent resistance.

adnanbwp - "The British were not backed by a super power. Quiet frankly, they were lenient in the use of whatever force they used as compared to the force used by Israel."

The British kind of were a superpower at the beginning of the century. And they were guilty of atrocities in India every bit as horrifying as anything the Israeli army and Hamas are dishing out now. Consider the Jallianwala massacre in 1919, where the British army slaughtered over 2000 Indians who were participating in a peaceful protest of the occupation.
posted by shylock at 6:05 PM on April 1, 2002


I had a response written to your India comparison, but now I can safely shorten it to 'what shylock said'

The best way possible is to make both sides accountable. Not taking sides is the best option. If the Israelis refuse to leave the occupied land, they should be sanctioned. NO more American aid for them. And if the Palestinians dont stop suicide bombings, then no more Arab support for them.

You won't mind if the Americans say 'You guys first' to the Arab countries on that one, would you? After all, Iraq just increased its payout to suicide bombers, not cut it off. Considering how well Iraq's taken their promise to stop trying to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons to heart, I don't think negotiating any further agreements should be a particularly high priority for the US right now.
posted by boaz at 6:38 PM on April 1, 2002


It's unfortunate that the quality and intellectual rigor of the NYT op-ed pieces thoroughly deteriorate when it comes to this issue.

Of course it does, because you can't handle the truth.

---

The good news is that, thankfully, the Palestinians and surrounding nations are powerless the act on their agenda of lies. They have pathetic little economies, and equally pathetic militaries, both in terms of hardware and training. The somewhat less good news is that the surrounding Arab nations only care about the Arabs of the territories to the extent it furthers their domestic agenda.

And the bad news is that, for the foreseeable future, the Israelis, including the Arab Israelis (who, you will note, are not seeking to overthrow Israel) will have to risk their lives to advance their open, civilized, democratic (albeit Jewish) society.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:01 PM on April 1, 2002


To read headlines on the Times' Web site that "demonstrations spread across the Arab world" is both tragic and deeply satisfying. These are the masses who believe Jews were behind 9/11/02. And the masses whose power of critical thinking and discernment is the product of state controled, racist media.

I've always wondered: is it unethical to buy stock in a company which manufactures American and Israeli flags?

Is it unethical/unpatriotic for said companies to design flags to burn easily?

And where do you get an American or Israeli flag in Tehran, or wherever? Should these be freely exported?
posted by ParisParamus at 7:13 PM on April 1, 2002


Of course it does, because you can't handle the truth.

Good work, PP; never use a fact when an insult will do.

behind 9/11/02 [em mine]

heehee ... It seems the terrorists have discovered time travel now. God help us all.
posted by boaz at 7:31 PM on April 1, 2002


I was simply pointing out how cheap it is to argue "great publication and writer, except when they disagree with me."

Sorry for the date.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:38 PM on April 1, 2002


If the US government threatened to cut off all aid to Israel unless and until Israel withdrew to its pre-1967 borders, while at the same time promising to guarantee Israel's security within those borders, then I think all this horror might stop.
But since the US government has no intention of doing any such thing, I can only fear the worst--who knows what apocalyptic culmination of these increasing cycles of violence.
In any case, I think it is important to remember the US government's complicity in all this--Israel would not be sending their troops through Ramallah without at least implicit US backing.
posted by Rebis at 8:03 PM on April 1, 2002


If the US government threatened to cut off all aid to Israel unless and until Israel withdrew to its pre-1967 borders, while at the same time promising to guarantee Israel's security within those borders, then I think all this horror might stop.

Pray tell how America is going to stop the suicide bombers. If having a large, effective army is all that's required to guarantee security, then Israel wouldn't need America's guarantee at all. They'd just have already done it. Or are you thinking of some sort of Afghanistan-style bombfest? The fact of the matter is that America can't guarantee Israel's security any better than Israel can. I believe the relevant quote here is: 'For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, elegant and wrong.'

For more info, here's a Daniel Pipes op-ed piece addressing the very same subject.

In any case, I think it is important to remember the US government's complicity in all this--Israel would not be sending their troops through Ramallah without at least implicit US backing.

Truth be told, it's pretty explicit now. The US discovered that an effective strategy for combatting terrorism was to destroy their infrastructure and to topple governments that harbored and abetted the terrorists, and now they are belatedly giving backing to an Israeli campaign based on that strategy.
posted by boaz at 8:53 PM on April 1, 2002


dude i'm not even gonna bother with this quarrelsome B.S. You're right Boaz, the Palestinians were never forced off their land for being non-jewish. Zionism was actually a 60's porn movie i must be confusing with reality. and I'm glad you caught the irony about the terrorists and the Geneva convention. nonsensical indeed. here are some links, i'm taking a dump and never reading this log again:
UN Relief Agency for Palestinians

a real news site for boaz to keep track of geneva convention violations, bulldozings, pogroms and other stuff that doesn't really happen

Human Rights Watch

Progressive Israeli Site

great stuff, watch for the bulldozers, boaz!

Independent Media Main site

peace dudes.
posted by aLienated at 8:54 PM on April 1, 2002


Not content with merely being a liar, you now decide to be an obnoxious, sarcastic, dismissive liar, confusing a passel of leftist links for a comprehensible point. What can I say, except: 1) Peace, 2) Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, buddy.
posted by boaz at 9:22 PM on April 1, 2002


The Bush Administration is between Iraq and a hard place vis à vis Israel...
posted by ParisParamus at 9:58 PM on April 1, 2002


ParisParamus: "The good news is that, thankfully, the Palestinians and surrounding nations are powerless the act on their agenda of lies. They have pathetic little economies, and equally pathetic militaries"

This is wrong, and I think it's dangerous that there are people who believe it. There are Arab countries that are quite wealthy--the GDPs of Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE are comparable to those of European nations. Remember all that oil there? And Iraq, for one, has a program to develop weapons of mass destruction--hence all those UN sanctions.

Seriously, y'all, this is the crisis of our generation. It's in your best interests to be well-informed. Boaz--Indy media, for all that it has a strong liberal slant, is a great source of information. So are Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
posted by shylock at 10:03 PM on April 1, 2002


Let me clarify. There are civilians being targeted by terrorists who the Palestinian Authority are more than happy to shelter on their land. How is this any different to what happened to America?

Forget all the land crap, which is why i used to have sympathy for the Palestinians, the point is they are targeting civilians, how can any of you justify this by any reasoning.

The bottom line is, you either support terrorism in any form at any time there are civilians targeted, or you don't. I wish everyone would stop being a hypocrite.
posted by Zool at 10:05 PM on April 1, 2002


If I believed Sharon wanted to both crush terrorism and end the occupation, I would fully support him. But it is clear by everything he and his constituency have done that they want to crush the terrorists in order to maintain the occupation.

This, to me, is the fundamental difference between the US War on Terror and the Israeli war on Palestine. The US wants to crush terror in order to let freedom live, Sharon's government wants to crush terror in order to maintain the supremacy of a racist, colonialist outrage on Palestinian land that most of his own people do not support.
posted by chaz at 10:08 PM on April 1, 2002


So chaz, you are condoning the killing of inocent Israeli civilians, who in Haifa, were also of Arab descent?

Or are you being a hypocrite?
posted by Zool at 10:12 PM on April 1, 2002


I don't want anybody to misunderstand me, Israel is not one of my favourite countries in the world, and until the recent Intifada i had no sympathy for that country.

But no matter how much, i actually dislike(d) Israel, i cannot condone the Palestinian suicide bombers killing innocent civillians.

I would still have sympathy for the Palestinians and hatred for Israel if they stuck to military targets, since the Palestinians have choosen to attack civilian targets, they have pushed this war in favour of Israel, even America won't speak up too harshly against Israel, as they too are aware of this whole looking like hypocrites thing i mentioned.
posted by Zool at 10:29 PM on April 1, 2002


Any response that I could make to the author of this article would pale compared to what Nelson Mandela had to say in response to Mr. Freidman's previously expressed opinions.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:48 PM on April 1, 2002


No, Zool, I do not support anyone taking any civilian life. And I'm really wondering how you got that from my post.
posted by chaz at 11:24 PM on April 1, 2002


thanks for the link insomnia_lj

zool, I think when chaz differentiates between the situation of American viz a viz the situation of Israel, he is doing just that. Clearing a difference, Not expressing his support for suicide attacks on civilians.
posted by adnanbwp at 11:38 PM on April 1, 2002


zool, where did you get the impression that it was only the palestinians who were targeting civilians?
posted by shylock at 12:13 AM on April 2, 2002


And using treated Uranium bombs in Afghanistan is the same as using weapons of mass destruction.

It's "depleted uraniun," and no it isn't the same as using weapons of mass destruction. That's one of the most ridiculous statements I've heard on MeFi in some time.
posted by syzygy at 7:24 AM on April 2, 2002


adnanbwp - You tell me. Your country occupied by the British. Albeit there were Arab Jews, Christians and Muslims living together. But then the Occupying army (British) decide to IMPORT refugees from their neighborhood and PLACE them on lands of the NATIVES, under the threat of guns and tanks. I know I wouldnt accept that if I were a NATIVE. I would fight back.

So being occupied by the British is acceptable - but once the Jews start coming in, its time to revolt? So what is it again that you are opposed to? Occupation or occupation by Jews.
posted by schlyer at 7:53 AM on April 2, 2002


just an update on the definitional stuff:

Bush Clarifies 'Terror Doctrine'
U.S. Won't Brand Arafat Terrorist

Muslim Nations Won't Define Terrorism
Islamic Nations Fail to Define Terror, Leave to UN

i think it's interesting they didn't come up with any definition given the administration hasn't come up with one either. like it looks like terrorism has become a label of convenience rather than principle. in which case i think it's good they're stepping away from it (like the axis of evil :) and actually (hopefully!) looking at the issues instead. otherwise it just becomes an exercise in name calling.

also i hadn't really thought about the israeli occupation in terms of apartheid. thanks insomnia_lj. like yesterday i read GDP per capita in the gaza strip is $1000, 5.5% of israel.
posted by kliuless at 8:11 AM on April 2, 2002


schlyer: I think that the key word in adnanbwp's post was NATIVE, not British or Jew, which, in the context of his imaginary example could be replaced by Bahamians and Shintoists respectively without his point losing any validity.

BTW is it just my idea, or is Sharon actively trying to neutralize Arafat so that Hamas and Jihad are relegated to de facto spokespeople of the Palestinian cause, since he can deal much more effectively with these gentlemen whose methods, after all, are the Muslim equivalent of his own and have the same desire of seeing Yaser out of their way?
An excellent article, from Israel, much more nuanced than Friedman's uninformed propaganda, can be found here (from Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz- English edition, a trustworthy source of updates and info about the situation on the ground in Palestine).
posted by talos at 8:26 AM on April 2, 2002


There are Arab countries that are quite wealthy--the GDPs of Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE are comparable to those of European nations.
Of course, but those nations have even more meager militaries: they pose no military threat to Israel.

By the way, it can be argued that American financial support of Israel is, in essence, a form of indemnification: most, or at least a large chunk of the money which allows the Mideast's backward, undeveloped, hateful nations to be able to fund and support terrorism is oil dollars: American aid to Israel, while not evening things up, keeps Israel safe and stable.

even America won't speak up too harshly against Israel, as they too are aware of this whole looking like hypocrites thing

Actually, if America is refraining from anything, it's more outwardly siding with Israel, as the Secretary of Defense did yesterday. I would bet that a poll would find the American public 90-95% in support of Israel's current actions.

what Nelson Mandela had to say
If the countries and people who hate Israel so much were, themselves democratic and so hateful, Mandela would, at least, have a point. For the moment, he's totally wrong. I don't notice anyone complaining (other than Jews) for the expulsions and discrimination which forced about 3 million Jews to leave Arab countries.

Someone said they don't trust Sharon. Well, SUPRISE: you don't have to. He's the head of a democratic government in a pluralistic society. It's not his will but the Israeli people's, including the Israeli left, which approves.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:19 AM on April 2, 2002


do over:

what Nelson Mandela had to say
If the countries and people who hate Israel so much were, themselves democratic and pluralistic, Mandela would, at least, have somewhat of a point. But for the moment, he's totally wrong. I don't notice anyone complaining (other than Jews) for the expulsions and discrimination which forced about 3 million Jews to leave Arab countries.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:22 AM on April 2, 2002


Paris: "but those nations have even more meager militaries: they pose no military threat to Israel."

I think you'll find that even the Israelis will disgree with you here. After all, that's why they claim they need the territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip--as a security buffer between themselves and the Arab nations around them.

I would bet that a poll would find the American public 90-95% in support of Israel's current actions.

You're probably right. Unfortunately, morality isn't determined by popular vote.

Besides, I don't think you'd ever expect Americans to ever understand why the occupation seems so brutally unfair to the Palestinians. As a people who've only been a country for a couple hundred years, I think we have a hard time understanding the connection you can develop to your homeland after living there for thousands of years, for generations upon generations in the same villages. The Americans, like the Israelis, came to a foreign land and displaced the indigenous people claiming some sort of divine mandate, and we have yet to take responsibility for those wrongs. How could we possibility criticize Israel for doing precisely what we did ourselves?
posted by shylock at 10:33 AM on April 2, 2002


How could we possibility criticize Israel for doing precisely what we did ourselves?

Because we wouldn't do it today, we wouldn't do it again.

We don't allow slavery in the Sudan because we allowed slavery in our country.

We (finally) stood up to condemn apartheid in South Africa, even though we had just about the same thing in our past.

We know what the right thing to do in Palestine is, and we often express these opinions. Official US policy is much closer to Arafat's stated goals than to Sharons. However our application of our morals is lacking.


I would bet that a poll would find the American public 90-95% in support of Israel's current actions.

The latest poll from Gallup says that 80% of Americans think the US needs to pressure the Palestinians, and 72% think we need to pressure the Israelis to stop the violence. I think the American people are pretty much sick of both sides.
posted by cell divide at 10:56 AM on April 2, 2002


How could we possibility criticize Israel for doing precisely what we did ourselves?

Because we wouldn't do it today, we wouldn't do it again.

We don't allow slavery in the Sudan because we allowed slavery in our country.

We (finally) stood up to condemn apartheid in South Africa, even though we had just about the same thing in our past.

We know what the right thing to do in Palestine is, and we often express these opinions. Official US policy is much closer to Arafat's stated goals than to Sharons. However our application of our morals is lacking.


I would bet that a poll would find the American public 90-95% in support of Israel's current actions.

The latest poll from Gallup says that 80% of Americans think the US needs to pressure the Palestinians, and 72% think we need to pressure the Israelis to stop the violence. I think the American people are pretty much sick of both sides.
posted by cell divide at 10:57 AM on April 2, 2002


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