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What the hell is wrong with Israel?
July 17, 2006 10:24 PM   Subscribe

History of the Israel/Paestinian conflict from a pro-Israel point of view. Like many Americans I have no real idea what's going on "over there." Also like many Americans when I need some "truthiness" in the answers to my questions, I consult Canada and the UK. NPR can be trusted up to a point (drawn from a previous thread), but it's also good to hear from the other side too.
posted by BeReasonable (139 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by thirteenkiller at 10:42 PM on July 17, 2006


Someone forgot to tell BeReasonable that the Zog Machine stretches well into Canada and the U.K.
posted by rob paxon at 10:46 PM on July 17, 2006


Sure, but I still trust the BBC and the CBC more than what I get from the media here. It's very interesting just seeing the different search results I got using different versions of Google.
posted by BeReasonable at 10:52 PM on July 17, 2006


and, of course, the NPR link should be pointed at http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/the_west/
posted by wumpus at 10:55 PM on July 17, 2006


$&_(*! Sorry I actually meant to link to The Mideast: A Century of Conflict which has transcripts and audio. I was so proud too...
posted by BeReasonable at 11:02 PM on July 17, 2006


Nice ...


Israeli girls write messages in Hebrew on shells ready to be fired toward Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon.

via
posted by strawberryviagra at 11:15 PM on July 17, 2006 [3 favorites]


Personally, I trust Al Jazeera more than I trust Fox News. CNN seems to have improved over the past year or so. CBC is slightly less impartial than it used to be, but still is quite good, and the BBC seems best of all.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:16 PM on July 17, 2006


Why does there need to be a pro- or anti- side to these arguments? Doesn't anyone care what's *right* anymore? Or is all that matters who is arguing for what side?
posted by zerolives at 11:25 PM on July 17, 2006


I think it's more that there are facts, and there are interpretations of facts, and while facts can be right, interpretations are always from a point of view.
posted by athenian at 11:28 PM on July 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


I was just about to post that photo strawberryviagra. It pretty much says all I need to know at this point. What the hell is wrong with Israel indeed.
posted by -t at 11:30 PM on July 17, 2006


Israel Takes a Stupid Pill
posted by homunculus at 11:31 PM on July 17, 2006


Sitting in my "to be read" pile are books by the recently deceased scholar Edward Said. I think I'll listen to this lecture tomorrow inb the interest of hearing all sides. You might be interested too.

The Jerusalem Post also has a nice set of maps to help get our geography straight. There's also a set of maps detailing points of conflict and the range of different types of missiles.

...and zerolives, who decides what's right? I think that "what's right" is inseparable from which side you are on.
posted by bim at 11:32 PM on July 17, 2006


And thus the reason for my post. I'm sure there is a right version of the history of the conflct and such, but...anyone who actually knows the truth is dead. I think people should:
1. sort through the propaganda of your side
2. sort through the propaganda of their side
3. decide for yourself what the "truth" really is.
I think too many people skip a step.
posted by BeReasonable at 11:33 PM on July 17, 2006


And yes, the writing on bombs doesn't help matters. Of course, U.S. soldiers were doing the same thing in Iraq/Afghanistan until a picture was published.
posted by bim at 11:34 PM on July 17, 2006


I'm not convinced that "a right version of history" is a meaningful concept for this whole comflict -- at this advanced stage of the game. We can keep debating/studying history ad infinitum but that brings us no closer to a solution to the conflict.
posted by bim at 11:39 PM on July 17, 2006


And yes, the writing on bombs doesn't help matters. Of course, U.S. soldiers were doing the same thing in Iraq/Afghanistan until a picture was published.

This has been going on since artillery was invented. Moreover, I'm sure Cro-Magnon guys were carving their intials into rocks before they threw them at the Neanderthals.
posted by frogan at 11:45 PM on July 17, 2006


zerolives wrote...
Doesn't anyone care what's *right* anymore?

Did they ever?
posted by tkolar at 12:11 AM on July 18, 2006


You know what's wrong? Bombing civilians is wrong. Hezbollah are shitheads for doing it. The powers that be in Israel are shitheads with bigger toys who are now ruining one of the few (imperfect, I know) democracies in the region

And it's their fucking neighbor! This does not make any Israeli any safer.

Honestly, read king-of-the-neo-cons Bill Kristol: "It's Our War."

This is madness and quite frankly, we're well past the point where trying to find neutral ground is going to help. It's a worthy effort, don't get me wrong, but when madmen in power are actively trying to foment the deaths of tens of thousands more people, screw this tete-a-tete. It's high time Americans and Israelis held their governments accountable for this utterly murderous, backwards insanity.
posted by bardic at 12:12 AM on July 18, 2006


homunculus - good article. Israel doesn't seem to have a military strategy / direct objective. Collective punishment only breeds resentment. Mr Ohlmert's attempted effort to prove he has "cojones" is going to end in greater disequilibrium and discontent. This is not a surgical strike like Entebbe. Its a step into the morass.
posted by adamvasco at 12:31 AM on July 18, 2006


You know, there's a lot that could be said about what's going on between Israel and Lebanon at the moment. Infact, there's a lot that could be said about what's going on between Israel and almost all the Arab nations that surround them. But really, all that needs to be said is this.

Everyone over there needs to calm the fuck down. Take a chill pill for fucks sake.

Relax.

This link is good because it's balanced and well researched. But I think where it falls down is the title. "What the hell is wrong with Israel" is anything but balanced. I thank-you for the link though because it helps me out in my deliberations over the whole debacle. I would hope the original poster might gain the same benefits from further reading the links.

For me, the problem I have always had with the whole Middle East conflict is that there is no clearly definable good guy and bad guy. One could probably argue that that is always the case in any given conflict but usually one can look back at the history of the situation and find someone who clearly was acting a little bit worse than the other. So whereas for example in World War II the Nazis were clearly the bad guys, other conflicts are less definable. Vietnam, for example. There was a lot of bad on both sides, but which side was more 'evil' is hard to argue.

It's the same in this case too, I think. Lebanon has acted poorly but Israel's response has hardly been measured. Hezbollah should never have crossed the border and they should never have taken a solider captive but similarly Israel using this as an excuse to destroy much needed infrastructure in a thundering rain of hell-fire which ultimately will kill and maim many innocents is hardly what one would call a justified response.

That said, I understand Israel's position. They're surrounded on pretty much all sides by countries who want to see them gone forever. It's easy to judge the actions of Israel, Hezbollah and even the PLO from the comfort of my computer chair, but it would be far different living in the war-zone, no doubt. Ever since the 1948, Israel has seen and felt the horrifying consequences of its neighbors hate for them; they have lived through it and lost loved ones and many people there will have experienced things we here hope we would never experience. Such things would lead to very itchy Israeli trigger fingers, I can imagine. However, Israels' actions in response to many of these attacks will have made many on the opposite side of their missles and bullets feel the exact same way.

So I feel that this is the point that both Israel and their aggressors never seem to realise is that hate causes hate. Hurt causes more hurt. Peace causes peace. Consider the actions of Rabin and his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose policies brought about the longest sustained peace in the region's history. Ariel Sharons policies too (eventually), promised greater peace. But in both cases, peace was destroyed by hate. In Rabin's case, it was Isareli fundamentalists. Netanyahu's goals were destroyed by a combination of the stupidity of the Palestinian extremists and, of course, Israels own democratic process. In Sharons case, Israeli fundamentalists again thwarted his chances for peace. But in all cases, no one side was entirely at fault. The waters aren't getting any clearer for me.

So usually I just give up trying to work out who is more at fault here and angrily scream that the whole region just needs to take one enormous chill pill and calm the fuck down. I know that this is easier said than done. The toxic mix of religious extremism, centuries of racial tensions and hardline modern political opportunism make the whole situation far too volatile a thing to be fixed overnight. But dammit, these people need to realise that until they stop the suicide bombings, the retaliatory killings and full-scale air strikes raining down fiery death from above, nothing will ever get better. Things will only get worse. So for the love of god, for the sake of humanity, someone needs to tell these idiots to take a chill pill!

Peace out.

I'm about to post from work, an action which on occassion in the past has seen comments I post accidentally become triple-posted. If this does occur, rest assured I'll e-mail Matt straight away.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:36 AM on July 18, 2006


Effigy2000, yep that about sums it up for me, except that I think you have made one mistake in logic by assuming that anyone in the current mess is acting or thinking rationally.

My take on things is that when the people in power in your neighborhood have as a stated aim your destruction, then I think you might not be too much in the wrong bombing the shit out of them and anyone associated with them. Why? Because if you're not going to have a peaceful co-existence then you might as well go batshitcrazy. Israel is never going to be loved, like, possibly even tolerated, but they can damn sure be feared. My readings have convinced me that all of the peace overtures and reasoned debate have emboldened those seeking to end Israel. I hate to come off like a crazy bastard, but at some point, you just have to kick the crap out of someone to show that you are not to be messed with. It's true in prison, it's true in international politics.

I personally deplore the loss of innocent life in any conflict such as this, but to come back to bardic's point, I would urge the people of Lebanon and Syria and any other country with ties to a terrorist group, to demand accountability and perhaps to get rid of the fucking terrorists in their country. Not doing so is tantamount to supporting them, and supporting them sort of tarnishes your innocence.

For me, the whole issue got settled when I was on the BBC site and read some reactions from people on the street in Lebanon. One basically said that even though she thought the Hezbollah's kidnappings of the Israeli soldiers was illegal it had to be OK, because Israel was wrong.

How the hell do you respond to something like that? What steps do you take when people see you as the problem?
posted by BeReasonable at 12:56 AM on July 18, 2006


I was watching Fox News the other day and they kept adding the adjective "our strongest ally" or "our staunch ally" or "our friend" every time the name Israel was mentioned. When I say "every time" I'm not exagerating. Seriously.

It really creeped me out like nothing I'd seen on TV in a long time. It's like they were saying "OK sheep, this is what side you're supposed to be on."

Terrorism cannot be tolerated, but it's been proven time and time again Israel's hard-handed policies only create more terror. At a minimum, Israel must adhere to the 1967 boundaries, including giving partial control of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. The argument goes that Israel will be vulnerable to attack with these borders, but it's obvious Israel is vulnerable to attack now. The key is to get your neighbors not to want to attack you.

It's one thing to confiscate land from which attacks are being plotted against you, but quite another to actively encourage settlement on this land while expelling the natives. Israel is not 100% innocent in its conflicts, and these flaps will continue until Israel addresses the fundamental issue of stolen land.

If Israel wishes to continue its existance, it really only has two choices: 1) kill off virtually all arabs (like we did to the native americans) or 2) work for a fair and peaceful resolution.
posted by b_thinky at 1:01 AM on July 18, 2006


from the CBC article - "The UN agreed to partition Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a neutral UN zone containing Jerusalem, a city sacred to three religions."

This is the only solution. The Arabs didn't agree then, the Jews did, but they may change their minds now -- and there is no chance for peace without putting Jerusalem into neutral hands. Frankly, that's what the rest of the world deserves as well - why should our history and monuments be destroyed in fighting over new subdivisions?
posted by jb at 2:21 AM on July 18, 2006


frogan: ...I'm sure Cro-Magnon guys were carving their intials into rocks before they threw them at the Neanderthals.
I'm not sure about Cro-Magnons, but there is plenty of precedent for this in more recent times. If I had an artillery shell I'd write 'catch' on it too.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:04 AM on July 18, 2006


U.S. soldiers were doing the same thing in Iraq/Afghanistan until a picture was published.

Did they also have ponytails?
posted by srboisvert at 3:11 AM on July 18, 2006


I am really starting to wonder if Isreal's withdrawal of their settlers from Gaza a few months ago was a genuine gesture towards Palestine or if they were just preparing for the area to be a warzone and getting their people out.
posted by sophist at 3:18 AM on July 18, 2006 [3 favorites]


I have been avoiding these threads, but since people seem confused, I thought I could post a bit of info, as don't think Israel's goals here are too mysterous, and it does not involve some massive conspiracy ala sophist. In keeping with the thread, this is Israel's mindset, not a view of every side.

1) In withdrawing to the international border in Lebanon and (to a lesser extent) Gaza, Israel believed that they were complying with the demands of the international community and Israel's own left wing, and, especially in Lebanon, there was no reason to have future conflict. There were French and UN guarantees after the withdrawal that Israel's northern border would be safe.

2) Hezbollah immediately created a new casus belli, that all Lebanese territory has not been liberated due to an area called Sheba Farms, which the international community said was part of Syria's Golan Heights. The Brookings Institution wrote: "The Sheba'a Farms issue is purely political. In legal terms there is no merit to the claim that the Sheba'a Farms are Israeli-occupied Lebanese territory. In drawing the "Blue Line" in 2000, the United Nations looked at more than ninety different maps of the region. Only one of them—which was deemed a forgery—showed the Sheba'a Farms as Lebanese."

3) There have been many attacks before on the northern border since 2000, and exchanges of fire, but this one was particularly harsh from an Israeli perspective. The soldiers who were attacked were reservists, on their last patrol of the year (they were going home an hour later), and the kidnapping of another soldier in Gaza made the country very nervous that they were encouraging this sort of act by negotiation. At the same time, Israel had been increasingly worried about Hezbollah, given that it receives around $250 million a year in funding, plus weapons and training, from Iran, whose new President has publicly dedicated itself to Israel's destruction. The timing of the attack was not viewed as a coincidence.

4) On the Lebanese border, Israel has decided that the international community won't help, despite complying with the UN back in 2000, and that Hezbollah represents a growing proxy threat to Israel, able to attack with impunity wihtout any response. Israel decided that Hezbollah needs to be dismantled. Given the previous war, Israelis have zero interest in occupying Lebanon, and the end-goal for this is simple: weaken Hezbollah enough so that either the Lebanese army or an international force can control South Lebanon, thus securing the northern border. Israel feels that they must win this war, or they will never be safe from missle attacks in the north, and that this will encourage its enemies to act further.

5) One bad side effect of this conflict, from a left-wing perspective, is that it "proves" that withdrawal and international support are useless. Israel withdrew from Lebanon and from Gaza, and they were attacked from both locations. Israel has stayed in the West Bank, and that remains calm. I am not saying that this is correct logic, but it undermines the idea of withdrawal quite strongly.

Some sources that might be useful.
Israeli Side:
Haaretz, a left-wing paper that has some of the best updated news on the conflict.
Ynet, the English version of Israel's largest newspaper.

Lebanese Side:
The Daily Star, the largest English paper in Lebanon, has been pretty useless.
The Lebanese Bloggers give better info.
posted by blahblahblah at 3:58 AM on July 18, 2006


One final note, on the picture that strawberryviagra posted, and -t and srboisvert commented on.

Believe it or not, the ponytails are significant. Both girls are wearing orange ponytail holders, orange is the color of the anti-disengagement movement. Whoever sent these girls out to be photographed is on the right wing of the political spectrum, so take it with a grain of salt, it is not representative.
posted by blahblahblah at 4:03 AM on July 18, 2006


Clearly we accept, believwe news or positions that support postions we already hold. As for writing on shells: heck, this was done by Americans way back in WWII..so what?

The one thing that annoys mne in such discussions: references to collective punishment by Israel as though shooting rockets randomly into civilian populations and suicide bombings of pizza parlors was not collective punishment. When Hezbolla hides among civilian homes and populations, then, yes, civilians get killed. Much as civilians got killed at Dresden by American bombers when in fact there were not even enemy forces hiding there.
posted by Postroad at 4:06 AM on July 18, 2006


blabblah - thanks for filling in the detail. I wasn't aware of the orange ponytail movement.

It's a propaganda moment, captured by AP and syndicated to the world press - I added the link to the Australian press clipping where this was featured if anyone wanted to see it in context.

It's a disgraceful image, reeking of confidence in the cause and advocating extreme violence supposedly sanctioned by innocents.

The girl is no more than 9 years old, she's not a battle weary GI. Does she understand the gravity of what she's doing? Hardly.

Another generation of violence.
posted by strawberryviagra at 4:26 AM on July 18, 2006


war crimes are war crimes, posty. whether they are committed by Hizbollah or by the Israeli army. obviously, you value Arab lives less; unfortunately, the less-depraved among us value human lives just the same, regardless of race or religion.

see, Zarqawi beheaded people, but you don't see Rumsfeld chopping some Iraqi's head off during a press conference. not that he wouldn't enjoy that, but he's smart enough to understand that if you sink to your terrorist opponent's level, well, then it becomes pretty hard to avoid being branded a rogue state.

you're comfortable with Israel committing war crimes because the other guy's doing it? good for you. most of the international community, and a lot of saner Israelis (and non-Israeli jews all around the world) are uncomfortable with that.

an example: as said above, it's clear that a possible solution of the conflict is the annihilation of the Palestinians -- it'll certainly free up a lot of room in the West Bank. you're OK with war crimes because the other guy started it, but would you be comfortable with Israel becoming a genocidal state, too?

I hope not, Posty.

so, really, it's untenable to argue that Israel can commit war crimes. war crimes are war crimes, Posty -- ironically, that's one of the lessons of Nuremberg. if you're a democracy, you havr to play by democracy's rules, even against terrorists. you can't be a little pregnant. you consistently choose war crimes, well, good luck being regarded as something different than a rogue state then
posted by matteo at 4:35 AM on July 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


and yes, those girls are settler kids, never mind the shit their parents have them do in front of the cameras for propaganda reasons.

those pictures are irrelevant, it's just more fuel thrown on the fire by extremists. they're no more relevant than the photos of the Palestinian baby dressed up as a suicide bomber. it's the consequence of a culture of hate. I don't have a problem with those girls. it's their parents who are part of the problem.
posted by matteo at 4:38 AM on July 18, 2006


Hezbollah captured soldiers. Last time I looked, when you're at war, that's allowed. And yea, this is war; and has been for decades. Ask any Palestinian, or Lebanese just north of the border. Israel responds like a so-called terrorist: deliberately bombing areas with high civilian populations, making no effort to avoid killing them...striking fear into the enemy. And (most of) the world looks on.
posted by mapalm at 4:40 AM on July 18, 2006


that last link you posted seems incredibly anti-israel to me... if israel is "the other side" for you, shouldn't it be a less biased article? just saying.
posted by timory at 4:54 AM on July 18, 2006


Hezbollah captured soldiers. Last time I looked, when you're at war, that's allowed.
If Israel is at war they are allowed to fight back.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 4:56 AM on July 18, 2006


also that isn't hebrew those girls are writing, it's just badly spelled english.

also also, israel is certainly making an effort to avoid killing civilians. i'm not saying that they're succeeding all that well, or that they're any more correct for what they're doing, but they have definitely been warning civilians before attacking.

at this point i'm just so tired of sweeping generalizations or blanket statements about either side.
posted by timory at 5:00 AM on July 18, 2006


Aside from hopefully a change in the latest escalation in hatred, I think that the Israeli-Palestinian problem will sadly continue to be a war of attrition. Similar to the troubles in Northern Ireland. For some time to come.
posted by bim at 5:17 AM on July 18, 2006


I'm sure you're up to speed on the events that triggered the Trojan War. Only this time, instead of a kidnapped woman, we have three (so far, including a little earlier in the year) kidnapped Israeli soldiers. I'm not saying they should just be ignored, but this sounds like George W. Bush Syndrome to me.

Launching a reprise of 1982 over three guys seems a bit much. I'd've grabbed three Hezbollah trigger pullers at random and put 'em under military guard at old Hannah Finkelstein's house in Tel Aviv with the instructions that they get nothing but Mrs. F.'s Jewish cooking three times a day, and at prayer times, they'll just have to estimate the direction of Mecca by noting the position of the sunlight coming in through the windows. That seems a little closer to the "eye for an eye" precept.
posted by pax digita at 5:20 AM on July 18, 2006


This video of some Fox News coverage of the current conflict is informative (and a little funny in a bitter sort of way).
posted by Gnatcho at 5:25 AM on July 18, 2006


Good to see some calm heads in this thread. Everybody stay cool and we'll make it out OK.

I second blahblahblah's remark about the Orange brigade. Blue is the colour of Israel's doves, orange is the hawks. Both sides have big followings (it was all up in your face around the time of the people being removed from the settlements) and almost looked like a civil war in the making.
posted by Blip at 5:28 AM on July 18, 2006


The key is to get your neighbors not to want to attack you....

Other than (1) not being Jewish, and (2) leaving, I can't think of what they can do. Sure, they can absolutely be better/smarter than they have been, but it's a bit naive/disingenuous to say "well, if Israel's nice, then everyone will just let them be."
posted by inigo2 at 5:39 AM on July 18, 2006


it's a bit naive/disingenuous to say "well, if Israel's nice, then everyone will just let them be."

Hear, hear. As one of the few remaining pro-Israel liberals, I have to agree.
posted by grubi at 5:54 AM on July 18, 2006


Right now Israel is creating the next generation of Hezbollah fighters and suicide bombers.

Maybe in 5-10 years they'll have occasion to pause and wonder if bombing the shit out of the neighbors was such a wise decision after all.
posted by clevershark at 5:55 AM on July 18, 2006


israel is certainly making an effort to avoid killing civilians. ... but they have definitely been warning civilians before attacking.

I read this yesterday:
It will be called the massacre of Marwaheen. All the civilians killed by the Israelis had been ordered to abandon their homes in the border village by the Israelis themselves a few hours earlier. Leave, they were told by loudspeaker; and leave they did, 20 of them in a convoy of civilian cars. That's when the Israeli jets arrived to bomb them, killing 20 Lebanese, at least nine of them children. The local fire brigade could not put out the fires as they all burned alive in the inferno. Another "terrorist" target had been eliminated.
posted by chunking express at 6:11 AM on July 18, 2006


pax digita: "I'd've grabbed three Hezbollah trigger pullers at random...That seems a little closer to the "eye for an eye" precept."

As stated above, the key to understanding what Israel is doing is to realize that, from the Israeli perspective, the much-vaunted proportionality is a fool's game. Again, from Israelis view, each time Hezbollah attacked in the past, Israel has responded proportionally and complained to the international community. That obviously does not discourage Hezbollah. What Israel is doing now is really a war to eliminate Hezbollah as a force-in-being on Israel's border. Basically, everyone from Arab states (but Iran and Syria) to the EU would like to see Hezbollah gone, which is why they are not complaining that hard about Israeli actions. With Hezbollah gone, Israel believes, the Northern border will be quiet.

For thos interested, some good commentaries from Israeli press, that should give a sense of feelings across the spectrum:
->On the "Green Light" from the international community
->On the conflicted feelings of the Israeli Left
->A right-wing view of the conflict
->A response by one of the Four Mothers (who were influential in the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000)
->On the failures of every party involved

The consensus in the Israeli media seems to be that Hezbollah has lost about 50% of their missles, and that the war will be over in about a week, that it will end with an international force or the Lebanese army or both in South Lebanon, but that Israel may still need to negotiate for the release of the soldiers with Iran or Syria.
posted by blahblahblah at 6:16 AM on July 18, 2006


Israel kills "terrorists" like them every day. It's just that they don't make the cover of every newspaper in the US when they murder innocent people.
posted by nevercalm at 6:17 AM on July 18, 2006


Blahblahblah -- what are the political leanings of the Jerusalem Post too?
posted by bim at 6:27 AM on July 18, 2006


Blip writes: "Everybody stay cool and we'll make it out OK."

I can only assume you aren't a Lebanese civilian, and hence not related to these guys.

To boil down the Israeili attacks on Lebanese civilians into "we're gonna make it guys" is, frankly, abhorrent. Of course "we" will. We, as Americans, butter Israel's (military) bread. They commit violence in our name whether we approve or not.

It's high time "we" stopped approving.
posted by bardic at 6:36 AM on July 18, 2006


Israel seems to have no problem killing innocent Lebanese civilians.

This is not to say that the other sides are right. No one is right in this. They all just need to stop.
posted by onepapertiger at 6:36 AM on July 18, 2006


The Crusaders, however, broke the alliance and invaded Palestine about a year later. They captured Jaffa and Jerusalem in 1099, slaughtered many Jewish and Muslim defenders and forbade Jews to live in Jerusalem. They held the city until 1187. In that year, the Muslim ruler Saladin conquered Jerusalem. The Crusaders then held a smaller and smaller area along the coast of Palestine, under treaty with Saladin. However, they broke the treaty with Saladin and later treaties. Crusade after crusade tried unsuccessfully to recapture Jerusalem.

The crusaders left Palestine for good when the Muslims captured Acre in 1291.


i think this is the most relevant part of the first link, which seemed reasonably balanced to me ... the israelis are repeating history ... except that the crusades didn't end with a good part of the middle east being a radioactive wasteland

demographically and culturally, israel is doomed unless the current attitudes on both sides change ... and they won't change if the kind of events that have happened in the past couple of weeks keep happening

i don't say this gladly or as a supporter of the palestinians ... i gave up on this particular fight a long time ago as i think they're all bloody-minded and crazy

it is what it is ... and it is a tragic clusterfuck of monumental proportions
posted by pyramid termite at 6:37 AM on July 18, 2006


That last link which purports to deliver a history of Israel is woefully inadequate.
posted by nofundy at 6:45 AM on July 18, 2006


"Local health workers say they face difficulties reaching the injured in southern Lebanon following furious Israeli artillery barrages and air strikes that came in response to the 12 July kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah."

More from Juan Cole.
posted by bardic at 6:51 AM on July 18, 2006


bim - the Jerusalem Post used to be rightwing, but has moved towards the center over the last year or two.

In terms of Israeli news in English, from left-wing to right-wing:
Ha'aretz, center-left
Yedioth Ahronoth (ynet), center
Jerusalem Post, center-right
Israel Insider, right
Arutz Sheva, crazy religious right (they also call themselves "Israel National News," though they are far from it.)

Ha'artez generally has the best writing of the bunch. Ynet is the most read paper and news site in Israel.
posted by blahblahblah at 6:54 AM on July 18, 2006


Why does there need to be a pro- or anti- side to these arguments? Doesn't anyone care what's *right* anymore? Or is all that matters who is arguing for what side?
posted by zerolives at 11:25 PM PST


A pro Israel side will consider 'event X' not worthy of consideration while the anti side calles 'event X' 'a major reason'. So, if you are trying to get up to speed on the events - picking data from "pro" and "anti" sites will give you 2 viewpoints. There are things like water rights ideas like the clean break and end of the world talk How about the comment about Mr. Annan UN secretary general, has said he expects the proposed peacekeeping force for Lebanon to be "considerably larger" than the current 2,000-strong UN force in the country. Such means that UN peacekeepers could be under fire from either side - so how is that right?

As for what's "right" - when has 'right' matters much when 'might makes right'?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:59 AM on July 18, 2006


thanks for this (mostly) well-reasoned and good discussion. my armchair psychologist's take on "what the hell's wrong with israel"? i think it's roughly the same thing that's wrong with child abuse victims who grow up to be abusers themselves, only at a collective level. now that the israelis have got some real power, they're acting out exactly the kinds of abuses their culture has been on the receiving end of throughout history.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:05 AM on July 18, 2006


Hear, hear. As one of the few remaining pro-Israel liberals

I'm not an anti-Israel liberal any more than I'm an anti-United States liberal. I've dreamed fondly of visiting the country with my Israeli friends and then showing them Greece. What I am is against certain horrific actions by Israel, just like I am against certain horrific actions by the US. In both cases, I'd like to see said countries act with a certain level of ethics that doesn't involve putting people (in both cases muslims, coincidentally) in camps without any end to it planned, without treating certain peoples (again... muslims) without giving them full rights, and without causing serious amounts of deaths to non-combatants (muslim noncombatants in both these cases). Hell, I'd like to see no causing of serious amounts of deaths--or ANY number of deaths--to ANYBODY. But that's a fool's dream.

It doesn't help anything, grubi, to act as if Israel isn't a significant player in it's own ongoing problems. What is the solution? Hell if I know. It's not destroying the infrastructure, government and dreams of the average Lebanese person, that's for sure. That's only going to add to the shitstorm for generations to come. Like Alterman said in that article... all tactics, no apparent strategy. And just what the Iraq debacle looked to accomplish well before we even went in there. Lo and behold... that's exactly what happened.

Just like with this US administration, I no longer believe that the Israeli government really wants any kind of fair, peaceful solution. I know neither Hezbollah nor Hamas do, but the Palestinians and Lebanese I know sure as hell want a good peace so they can get on with their lives. Shouldn't Israel, or at least their government, be acting better than Hamas or Hezbollah?
posted by the_savage_mind at 7:07 AM on July 18, 2006


israel is certainly making an effort to avoid killing civilians.

Israel needs to try a little fucking harder at that effort.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:09 AM on July 18, 2006


Grubi, I think you're wrong about being one of the last pro-Israel liberals.

A lot of American liberals take their cue from the Israeli peace movement, which they see as an ideologically correct middle ground between (on the one hand) Likudnik/PNACers in the U.S. and Israel and the anti-semitism / Palestine-from-river-to-the-sea sentiment of some of the harder-core left. And the Israeli peace movement's is (at least) tacitly supporting Olmert.

Predictably, American liberals are coming out strong for Israel: Hillary Clinton spoke at a pro-Israel rally yesterday in New York; heck, Russ Feingold backed Olmert over the weekend.

And the left blogosphere indicates some pretty strong backing for Israel as well: check out DailyKos or DemocraticUnderground if you don't believe me. Anti-Israel sentiment is at most at 60/40 there, and the Israel supporters are standing strong in every thread I've checked out.

I'm personally very interested to see how Ned Lamont comes out -- assuming that he hans't already (I haven't seen anything). His hard-core lefty supporters want him to denounce the bombing campaign to distinguish himself further from Lieberman, but I bet he breaks their heart and comes out strong for Israel.
posted by MattD at 7:11 AM on July 18, 2006


...that is, forcibly removing people from their native lands, putting large numbers of people in camps, scapegoating "muslims", all the while reveling in their superior military force and the political leeway it affords them, etc...
posted by saulgoodman at 7:23 AM on July 18, 2006


Predictably, American liberals are coming out strong for Israel: Hillary Clinton spoke at a pro-Israel rally yesterday in New York; heck, Russ Feingold backed Olmert over the weekend.

Around here, when a politician comes out in favor of something, the campaign contributions given to said politician are posted.

Open Secrets - More than two-thirds of that total, or $28.6 million, has gone to Democrats.*
posted by rough ashlar at 7:29 AM on July 18, 2006


israel is certainly making an effort to avoid killing civilians.

It'd be a first.
posted by Artw at 7:30 AM on July 18, 2006


Also, BeReasonable, the last link is total crap as far as criticism of Israel is concerned. Not because it is anti-Israel, but because it is factually inaccurate.

For example, it says of Zionism: "But then in the late 1800s a group in Europe decided to colonize this land. Known as "Zionists," this group consisted of an extremist minority of the world Jewish population. They wanted to create a Jewish homeland, and at first considered locations in Africa and South America, before finally settling on Palestine for their colony."

This just isn't correct in any sense of the word "correct". First, Zionism was founded in the 1890s as a result of the Dreyfus affair and the Russian pogroms, which convinced a large number of Jews that they would never be safe unless they lived in their own homeland, it was not started as an extremist movement. And while not universally accepted until the Second World War (which seemed to demonstrate the Zionists' point), it was not an extremist view. In the 1920s elections in Poland (when Jews were briefly allowed to vote without limitations), Zionist parties received over 31% of the Jewish vote, for example. Also, the goal of Zionism was always a return to Palestine, other ideas were considered, but never gathered steam. Now, you can interpret those facts however you'd like, but having the facts right seems fundamental.

In short, if you want an opposing history of the founding of Israel, the last link in the FPP is pretty lousy.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:32 AM on July 18, 2006


I read the main link and the "other side" link. The pro-Israel one was much more coherent and objective, even if not completely so.

Here's a wild, crazy idea: "You are not your ancestors, and you deserve neither the blame for their actions nor the fruit of their acquisitions."
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 7:35 AM on July 18, 2006


It doesn't help anything, grubi, to act as if Israel isn't a significant player in it's own ongoing problems.

the_savage_mind, I don't. Just as you say, I'm no more anti-Israel than anti-US. I support both, but not unequivocally.

It's just that if I were Israeli and all of my neighbors were hellbent on wiping my nation and my people off the face of the earth, I'd at least take serious offense at the notion. And if I endured that long enough, I might consider violent solutions.

Grubi, I think you're wrong about being one of the last pro-Israel liberals.

One of the few times I get to be called wrong and be glad for it, MattD. :-)
posted by grubi at 7:45 AM on July 18, 2006


Hezbollah is idiotic but Israel's murderous massive over-reaction must also be stopped. The moral principle here is "Your kid brother throwing a bottle at me does not give me the right to kill everyone in your neighborhood."

(But if G_d told Israel to do it, as in chapter 20 of the Bible's Book of Judges, then it's okay, eh?)
posted by davy at 7:46 AM on July 18, 2006


Re the photograph of the Israeli girls writing on the bombs: Geez people, don't make too much of this. As others have pointed out, graffiti has always been an ugly sideshow of war (..and you'd think war would be ugly enough by itself.) Compelling and infuriating photo opportunities pre-date the camera, and pictures like this exist on all sides of every conflict.

The thing to remember with provocative photos like this (or, for that matter like the post-September 11th photos of the celebrating Muslims) is that someone has selected this/these photos to elicit a desired effect on the viewer. Photography is a boon to sophistry, and looking at a photo and concluding "nuff said" is irrational.
posted by applemeat at 7:52 AM on July 18, 2006


"You are not your ancestors, and you deserve neither the blame for their actions nor the fruit of their acquisitions."

guess I'll be working on my español now...
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:00 AM on July 18, 2006


I was watching Fox News the other day and they kept adding the adjective "our strongest ally" or "our staunch ally" or "our friend" every time the name Israel was mentioned.

I thought our strongest ally and best friend was supposed to be Canada. But our current president is the first in recent memory whose first visit as president to a foreign country wasn't to Canada.
posted by oaf at 8:04 AM on July 18, 2006


Here's a wild, crazy idea: "You are not your ancestors, and you deserve neither the blame for their actions nor [not] the fruit of their acquisitions."
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 7:35 AM PST


How's your Cherokee?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:09 AM on July 18, 2006


applemeat: Strong point. I've done a bit of documentary video and know quite well how the lens can be used to say what you want to say.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:09 AM on July 18, 2006


I'm sure now that Harper is in power here in Canada the US and Canada will become best of friends once more.
posted by chunking express at 8:14 AM on July 18, 2006


It really creeped me out like nothing I'd seen on TV in a long time.

You know what really creeps me out? People who watch FOX News.
posted by any major dude at 8:14 AM on July 18, 2006


Pretend for a minute that for the entire history of your nation, on any landmass adjacent to your nation has lived a society who since the dawn of time has considered your extermination to be the only viable chance of their society being happy. Hold on to that thought.

I'm not proud to say that I could come around to the idea of killing someone, but honestly -- if you have not been in that situation, how can you tell them to react differently?

It's ugly, but it's the ugliness of humanity. Not of any one group or people.
posted by cavalier at 8:19 AM on July 18, 2006


Don't forget that Israel is in this mess because umpteen generations ago the 12 Tribes disobeyed YHVH's order to go into the land of Canaan and slaughter everybody there.
posted by davy at 8:21 AM on July 18, 2006


I don't understand why my government (Canadian) takes sides on this. It doesn't make sense. No one that's killing people, particularly civilians, is in the right. Neither side is defendable. It's _understandable_ why each side feels the way the do, but the actions are not defendable.
posted by raedyn at 8:22 AM on July 18, 2006


What I am is against certain horrific actions by Israel, just like I am against certain horrific actions by the US.

I agree with both of those statements. But I'd add, I am also against certain horrific actions by many of the other countries in the middle east.
posted by inigo2 at 8:32 AM on July 18, 2006


The continuing horrific actions by all concerned just lead to more of the same.
posted by caddis at 8:36 AM on July 18, 2006


The continuing horrific actions by all concerned just lead to more of the same. - caddis

Yes!

On CBC's The National last night, some of the coverage on the current crisis included interviews with Israelis both in the immediately affected areas, and elsewhere in the country, further away from the conflict. Israelis in both places said "if it leads to peaces it's worth the risk of us getting bombed in retalliation". I was astounded. How can they possibly think that this battle is going to be the one to bring a lasting peace? Bombing the shit out of 'the enemy' and taking lots of prisoners hasn't worked anytime in the the last 50+ years of this ugly conflict, why would it suddenly work now?
posted by raedyn at 9:01 AM on July 18, 2006


But lately the horrific acts of Israel vastly outweigh those of Hezbollah.
posted by davy at 9:02 AM on July 18, 2006


Pretend for a minute that for the entire history of your nation, on any landmass adjacent to your nation has lived a society who since the dawn of time has considered your extermination to be the only viable chance of their society being happy. Hold on to that thought.

Hang on, am I supposed to be an Israeli or a Palestinian?
posted by Artw at 9:11 AM on July 18, 2006


Re: blahblahblah's assertion that the anti-disengagement sentiment is not representative:

From the article posted with the photo:
A poll in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth daily showed a vast majority of Israelis backed the Lebanon offensive. Many favoured assassinating Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

It showed 86 per cent of Israelis believed the army's attacks on Lebanon were justified.
posted by blendor at 9:15 AM on July 18, 2006


A lot of this is domestic politics for Hezbollah (something that tends to be forgotten by international audiences). Most Lebanese want them out of the country and resent them as vestiges of Syrian control. By precipitating these attacks, they're trying to both prove their relevance and re-establish Israel as bad guys. Israel, like a steroid-laden mongoloid, obliges them. Everyone wins, except the people that get killed or maimed or have their houses blown up.

Basically, this whole confrontation is good for every extremist in the region, no matter what side.
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2006


blahblahblah, yes that site does seem to be incredibly biased and pretty inaccurate, but it also represents an anti-Israeli side. If you can suggest a better link, I think people would be interested. I went with it, because it was the only one I could find.

The truthfulness isn't as relevant as you might think. The first link seems pretty balanced, but it is definitely from a pro-Israel site, so I wonder how the facts have been spun there versus the last link.

Also, for the record, I don't think there is anything the hell wrong with Israel. I just thought it sounded catchy and might encourage more folks with an anti-Israel slant to express themselves. I'm pretty pro-Israel myself and so are all my friends. I was interested in hearing the other side of things. I got my wish and I feel I learned some things. I'm still right of course...
posted by BeReasonable at 9:41 AM on July 18, 2006


John Bolton weighs in on the Israel/Lebanon conflict with his usual charm and diplomacy.
posted by Brak at 9:43 AM on July 18, 2006


demand accountability and perhaps to get rid of the fucking terrorists in their country. Not doing so is tantamount to supporting them, and supporting them sort of tarnishes your innocence.
bereasonable

Well, anyone willing to step up to the plate and pull all the neocons around the country out of power physically? Anyone?
Well, I guess because you're not you're all somewhat complicit on what's going on . . .

As for me, I intend to write a letter to the editor of the local paper, 'cause I know they will listen and publish it, what's more I'm going to write my congressperson and senator! Yes, that's it, that will surely make a difference! Perhaps I'll even join up with the local political party that I'm sure will make a difference, because I know they take a firm stance on issues that matter to all of us, why yes, that's it, I'll register with the *Democratic Party* ! ! !
Ooohhhhh, oh my, my head is spinning with my new-found sense of power as a *citizen* and not a consumer. . .
Perhaps I should just lie down for a bit until it passes. . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:45 AM on July 18, 2006



Pretend for a minute that for the entire history of your nation, on any landmass adjacent to your nation has lived a society who since the dawn of time has considered your extermination to be the only viable chance of their society being happy. Hold on to that thought.

Hang on, am I supposed to be an Israeli or a Palestinian?


Holy hell, well played Artw. Right on the money, too. If anything, the majority of Palestinians have been forced to suffer far more depredations and killings... have in short been treated in a way that shows a hope that they'll just up and die... than the Israelis have over the last twenty-five years.

Basically, this whole confrontation is good for every extremist in the region, no matter what side.

Absolutely. In Hezbollah's case, it's all great for them. They get new recruits. Whether or not Iran spurred them into starting something, the end result is the same, and horrible for the average Lebanese.

In Hamas' case, however, I really have to assign a lot of blame to the US and Israeli governments for immediately starving the Palestinian Authority of funds (and subsequently food, water, electricity, school, medical supplies, etc.). What kind of reaction did they think they'd get? The one they got. They clearly hoped to spur Hamas to react in a way that would rationalize a counter attack. They've been planning on this ever since there were fair elections in the PA and their bought man, Abbas, had his party kicked out of power.
posted by the_savage_mind at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2006


The Israeli Coalition Against House Demolitions is an Israeli peace organization with a good anthropological analysis as well as a daring committment to non-violence against the occupation.

Their detailed map of the occupation is also more informative that what is shown in most news outlets.

Israel has been building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, against international laws governing the rules for occupying countries.

Beyond all the obnoxious killing that Israel does, and the no less reprehensible, if less in magnitude, killing that Palestinians and those arab people acting on their behalf conduct, this "development" has the goal of controlling the Palestinians as prisoners in a large jail. The Wall is another example of how the prisoner metaphor can be applied to make sense of the situation. The Wall is not built according to the 1967 border, but is built within and among Palestinian territories. Within the West Bank, which Israel isn't supposed to be operating within, Israeli-only Highways are constructed to divorce the many small palestinian territories from one another.

It is similar to the "urban renewal" policies of the United States, designed to keep black people in economically depressed ghettos.

It's as if the United States was encouraging settlement of Native American reservations, against tribal will, and killing and jailing Native people when they objected.

Now that the Arab states accept its existence, Israel needs to pull back to the 67 border and let the Palestinians alone. The US needs to start to lessen or eliminate the up to 10 billion dollars in military aid to Israel. Without such aid, wars like this could not be prolonged.

End the occupation and accept a two-state solution at least. A regional trading bloc with Lebanon and Syria (countries with deep economic and cultural ties) would allow Palestinians to participate in a regional economy while avoiding the "population bomb" threat to the Zionist project of a "Jewish Democracy."

by the way, i'm horribly disturbed by b_thinky's advocating genocide on this thread, and the fact that no one responded to it--have we forgotten the lessons of our grandfathers?

Even tolerating this chronic outbreak of war, as terrible as it is, is better than advocating the total elimination of arab people. If you seek to understand the problem as a whole, you should study the chronic ecological, geographic, economic, cultural, social, and political causes, and how they relate to one another.

For example:: "You are not your ancestors, and you deserve neither the blame for their actions nor the fruit of their acquisitions." but under our economic system, this is not true. Economic disparities are inheirited.

These arenas of knowledge demonstrate that we cannot dismiss the sins of our fathers, but we can work to address them, if we are really willing to learn from our ancestors mistakes, and change what needs changing.

I would advocate that we consider the work of ICAHD as exemplary, and supporting such work in Israel/Palestine as a good starting point for Israelis and Israeli-supporting Americans (that's all of us).
posted by eustatic at 9:52 AM on July 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I would like to take a minute to thank the United Kingdom and France for making such a godawful mess of their former colonial possessions.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2006


To answer the title's question, what's wrong with Israel is what's wrong with Hezbollah and Bush and maybe even Hitler: they think God is on their side, indeed that they're doing His Will. (I might add that it's too bad they think their God is too weak and wussy to do his own damn killing, but that'd probably be too contentious.)

And yes, I say Hezbollah should cut that stupid shit out, given that their fellow Arabs and/or Muslims won't or can't protect and defend them. And given that, practically speaking I agree that the Lebanese and their Arab and/or Muslim neighbors should make Hezbollah stop -- not because Israel is right but because the Arab/Muslim side is too weak to defend itself from the hellish shitstorm Hezbollah brings down. (By the way, one could argue that, objectively and/or paranoically speaking, Hezbollah is acting for Israel by showing everybody what total wusses the Arabs and Muslims are.)

My solution? Let's all line up along the Israel/Lebanon border to hold hands and sing Kumbaya!
posted by davy at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2006


by the way, i'm horribly disturbed by b_thinky's advocating genocide on this thread, and the fact that no one responded to it--have we forgotten the lessons of our grandfathers?

Oh, he did no such thing. He wrote:
...Israel is not 100% innocent in its conflicts, and these flaps will continue until Israel addresses the fundamental issue of stolen land.

If Israel wishes to continue its existance, it really only has two choices: 1) kill off virtually all arabs (like we did to the native americans) or 2) work for a fair and peaceful resolution.
He merely gave a choice of options there--and hardly a draconian choice. How you get him advocating genocide out of that is a wonder to me.
posted by y2karl at 10:11 AM on July 18, 2006


oh yeah, jeff halper of ICAHD has a blog. and a posse.
posted by eustatic at 10:14 AM on July 18, 2006


y2karl, b_thinky, sorry to both of you if i missed the rhetorical flourish.

jumpy, is all.
posted by eustatic at 10:20 AM on July 18, 2006


Hang on, am I supposed to be an Israeli or a Palestinian?

Holy hell, well played Artw. Right on the money, too. If anything, the majority of Palestinians have been forced to suffer far more depredations and killings... have in short been treated in a way that shows a hope that they'll just up and die... than the Israelis have over the last twenty-five years.


Err.. Palestine doesn't have a hostile society on every one of its borders, only one, so it doesn't really fit. Further, if it weren't for the PLO (warning: huge generalization, read your history), that whole bit could have been settled decades ago. They both want Jeruselam, that is the core of the Palestine conflict. The rest of the Arab world just wants to be rid of the Israelites.
posted by cavalier at 10:25 AM on July 18, 2006


Palestine doesn't have a hostile society on every one of its borders, only one

Um, maybe, if you mean one big long border that goes all the way around the Palestinian territories, since it's part of Israel and has no seperate existance as a country. That's about as surrounded as you can get.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on July 18, 2006


Other than (1) not being Jewish, and (2) leaving, I can't think of what they can do. Sure, they can absolutely be better/smarter than they have been, but it's a bit naive/disingenuous to say "well, if Israel's nice, then everyone will just let them be."
posted by inigo2 at 5:39 AM PST on July 18 [+fave] [!]


I don't think it's naive at all. Hizbullah isn't getting much support from anyone in the Arab world right now. If Israel gave the Palestinians a choice, I'm sure they would choose to live happy productive lives rather than seek vengence for their current conditions. Yes, there will always be extremists, but the better overall life is for everyone else, the less support extremists will get.

Hamas won a popular vote amongst Palestinians. Do you really think this is because they all hate Jews? Or is it because pretty much all of these people have been getting fucked over by Israel their entire lives?

BTW, does anyone actually think Hizbullah will just give the prisoners back without an exchange? When it's all said and done, Israel will release some Lebanese and Palestinian political prisoners in exchange for these soldiers. Doesn't that make the current situation in Gaza and Lebanon seem a bit bloodthirsty?
posted by b_thinky at 10:49 AM on July 18, 2006


Digby ftw, as usual.
posted by bardic at 10:52 AM on July 18, 2006


Artw, I tend to think the West Bank is bordered by Jordan, which in fact is really where historically 'Palestine' has been based anyhoo. I appreciate the Palestinian conflict and I in no way mean to project that Israel is faultless for its handling of the remaining folks wanting to call themselves Palestinian -- but, I guess, if I must repeat -- Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt. At least partially connected to Israel. Not exactly in the interest of a Zionist state. I don't think it's that easy to interchange an Israeli and a Palestinian in this context.
posted by cavalier at 10:56 AM on July 18, 2006


Hamas won a popular vote amongst Palestinians. Do you really think this is because they all hate Jews? Or is it because pretty much all of these people have been getting fucked over by Israel their entire lives?

for both reasons
posted by matteo at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2006


cavalier - Looking at the map eustatic provided of the occupied teritories it seems the areas bordering Jordan are all marked "Full Israeli Control" and "Estimated Settlement blocks - Israel seeks to retain". I'd say that's an Israeli border with Jordan.
posted by Artw at 11:30 AM on July 18, 2006


Ok, ok, I yield, you can be clever and ask whether I was describing an Israeli or a Palestinian, it seems we could go back and forth on this point for 10 more comments so I yield that element.

I still think you're missing my core point of surrounding nation states desiring an end to Zion. Palestine does not suffer this condition, more likely they are used as a wedge by several of those nation states to help turn the public against Israel.
posted by cavalier at 11:41 AM on July 18, 2006


Juan Cole gets an email:

A friend writes from the American University in Beirut:

' The university has fuel (and power) for only 12 days; after that we will have a real crisis at the hospital which is already stressed with many wounded people. Refugees from the southern suburbs are now visible in Ras Beirut.

I spoke to X in Saida [Sidon]. The city is almost completely cut off, and it is flooded with refugees from the south. X is volunteering to help distribute food and clothing to these people who are now in schools and shelters. Food seems to be running low.

Last night there were many loud explosions in Beirut and the air was thick with smoke. Beirut is rife with rumors, conspiracy stories, and panic. But so far, there is absolutely no sign of Lebanese people turning on each other. While many are disturbed that Hezbollah's actions seem to have triggered this war, the brutality of the Israeli attack has united the country. People are speculating on what the endgame will be. '


Great strategy, Israel. Peace in our time. Peace in our time.
posted by the_savage_mind at 11:44 AM on July 18, 2006


I still think you're missing my core point of surrounding nation states desiring an end to Zion. Palestine does not suffer this condition, more likely they are used as a wedge by several of those nation states to help turn the public against Israel.

You are most certainly correct that the Arab states have done nothing but use the Palestinians' plight as part of their game against Israel. Unfortunately, it was never their obligation to absorb the poverty-stricken Palestinians into their own nations and b) Israel and the West had to no right to expect it to happen. Further, it's not nit-picking or playing games to show that the borders of Gaza are in fact Israeli controlled. As is the airspace and the ports. Nor is it a game to point out that Israel's policy towards the Palestinians over the decades has been one of attrition (if you give it the ultimate positive spin) to downright 'let's roll the motherfuckers into the stone age until they get the hell out of here.'

I'm not sure how all of this doesn't describe an overpowering force surrounding the Palestinians in Gaza and not only hoping for their destruction as any kind of independent, democratic state but working assiduously over decades to make it so.
posted by the_savage_mind at 11:48 AM on July 18, 2006


Another proposed solution: the Jews should convert to a totally peaceful religion, like, oh, Islam! Who can argue with that noted religious scholar G.W. Bush?

Okay, okay, maybe in the real world that won't work.

All together now: Someone's bombing Lord, kumbaya! Someone's bombing Lord, kumbaya!
posted by davy at 11:59 AM on July 18, 2006


Blendor: Re: blahblahblah's assertion that the anti-disengagement sentiment is not representative...

I think you are confused by what is meant by anti-disengagement, which is normal, Israeli politics are confusing.

Essentially, there were two schools of thought on the Palestinian conflict originally - negotiate and give the Palestinians a state or don't negotiate. With Oslo, the negotiation side won, and the peace process started... except that it didn't lead to peace. Among themselves Israelis saw themselves as making massive sacrifices, accepting bombings, and not being dealt with in good faith. The peace process collapsed in 2000 with the second intifada, leaving the pro-negotiation "peace camp" in dissarray. The anti-negotiation side (Likud) took over, and it was unclear how things would proceed. Then Barak in Lebanon and Sharon in Gaza decided to try a new process - if there couldn't be peace through negotiation, there could at least be disengagement. By pulling back from hostile territory in accordance with international consensus, surely there would be peace.

The result was the current split of the Israeli population into the pro-disengagement camp (about 70% of Israelis, last year) and the against group (less than 30%). Both the center and left of the Israeli population supported disengagement, and it was expected to be the first step to peace. The settlements in Gaza were removed and Israel went through a difficult internal struggle, but one which was leading to the expectation that Olmert would then disengage from the West Bank as well.

Then rocket attacks from Gaza began, and Hamas kidnapped that soldier. This was a kick in the teeth to the peace camp, which was hoping that disengagement would bring peace. There was a lot of confusion over what to do next, and that is where things stood, until the attack from Lebanon.

From an Israeli perspective, Lebanon had nothing to do with disengagement or the Palestinians, Hezbollah launched an attack on Israeli soil, proving that the north of Israel was not safe. Unlike the situation in Gaza, which is controversal in Israel, this was not -- there was a heavily armed enemy in Hezbollah that was out to destroy Israel, and it was attacking people whenever it wanted to, and growing stronger all the time. From an Israeli view, Hezbollah cannot be negotiated with, the international community and Lebanon have failed to do what they promised to disarm them, and they are increasingly likely to attack. Thus, the current war to destroy Hezbollah as a fighting force, with its 13,000 rockets.

As you can see from the editorials I posted above, Israelis strongly support this effort, though many disagree with how it is being carried out. This does not translate into support for the government's actions towards the Palestinians or anything else, simply a near-universal belief in Israel that Hezbollah has been carrying out a one-sided war against Israel for too long, and that, given Iran's public positions on the subject, the situation would only get worse. This is not a proportional issue or fighting for land, from the Israeli side, it is about ending the threat from Hezbollah.

Hope that helps.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:07 PM on July 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well blowing up all of Lebanon will certainly get rid of Hezbollah. And a lot of other stuff too.
posted by chunking express at 12:13 PM on July 18, 2006


The obvious practical and proper solution is for the U.S. to tell Israel to stop bullying and murdering its neighbors (and mean it), and to stop giving Israel the weapons and money to bully and murder its neighbors with.

The obvious practical and improper solution is for the U.S. to commit its all to helping America's friendliest, most democratic ally fulfill the Biblical mandate of Eretz Yisrael to the Euphrates.

Given the current geopolitical givens nothing else is likely to work.
posted by davy at 12:28 PM on July 18, 2006


Oh, and for those interested, the consensus view of how all this will end, as of today:

Israel believes it has eliminated 40-60% of Hezbollah's rockets, and has been able thus far to prevent Hezbollah from using its long-range missiles by intercepting the launch trucks (which is why Israel has attacked trucks that fit the profile of launch vehicles, leading to some horrific civilian casualties, such as Marwaheen). As long as those long range rockets aren't used, Israel is unlikely to engage in any sort of major ground offensive, and seems unlikely to go after Syria. The IDF is estimating that it needs one more week to complete the destruction of Hezbollah.

Apparently, despite surface condemnation, both the Arab world and West want Hezbollah gone, which is why the G8 have essentially postponed diplomatic efforts until the end of the week. Then, it appears that some sort of international force, in conjunction with the Lebanese army, will enter the south and take control of at least the border area from the weakened Hezbollah. Israel is apparently not expecting to get its soldiers back, however, without negotiation. All of this leaves ordinary Lebanese (and Israeli civilians) caught in the crossfire for at least a few more days.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:33 PM on July 18, 2006


Whose consensus?
posted by raedyn at 12:40 PM on July 18, 2006


Question: How many times does Israel need to shrink its borders before the made-up ethnicity of "Palestinians" are happy?

Answer: "Are the Jews dead yet? No? Then just a little more here and there, of course." Piece in our time.
posted by grubi at 12:56 PM on July 18, 2006


Trollerific and not to be taken seriously ^
posted by y2karl at 1:12 PM on July 18, 2006


blahblahblah - thanks for clearing that up. I incorrectly assumed you were speaking of this particular military engagement, as a general term, rather than the specific disengagement process. What your recap lacks, however, is the reason for the apparently (but likely not) spontaneous and unprovoked attacks from Gaza and Lebanon. The reports I've read of Israel capturing and holding prisoners indefinitely (a la Gitmo) seems like the provocation necessary. Not that the reason matters much. You could trace reason back to reason for years. That's the sad thing about the cycle of violence. I like what Robert Fisk has to say on the matter:
Yes, that is the malevolent influence of history. We live under its dark shade and we cannot break free from it. No Palestinian can break free from 1948. No Israeli can really break free from 1933–45 in Europe. We search desperately for justice from history and history is a very, very cruel dispenser of justice. I don’t know what the answer is.

But I notice it and I feel it and I live with it. One of the problems, I think, is that we live through the old. We keep saying that if we want to have a new life we must re-educate the young, but I think we must re-educate the old so that the young can be free.
posted by blendor at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2006


The current war, then, not only cannot provide a real answer to Israel's problems, but also is being carried out by the same echelon of officers that was defeated in Lebanon, and with whom the accounts for that war have yet to be settled. Books were written, a protest movement arose, an investigative commission about one massacre was conducted, a defense minister who eventually became prime minister was convicted, and even though he is lying unconscious somewhere, his consciousness is apparently serving his pale shadows - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Justice Minister Haim Ramon and Co. - and another generation of impassioned youngsters is growing up around us and screaming over the Internet: "Stick it to them." Afterward, as they sit in the burning vehicles, perhaps in Syria, and the phrase "land mine" returns to the erased dictionary of the past, when they cry out "We want to go home," they won't have the sense to bequeath the recoiling from war to the next generation. That's because on television there still will be the same generals, with the same conception, with the same short and limited range of strategic understanding, and they will win the same enthusiasm from the public that just wants to "stick it to them."

...It is enough to see the destruction of Iraq and its results. The Americans do not intend to live in this region, but we do live here. And did the trigger finger in the North think about the victims in the North, about the fate of the captives? No. This trigger finger thought in terms of "who will stick more to whom." Who can restrain the army? Only Israeli opposition. The heads of the army are even warning of such opposition. That is, it is not yet too late.
It's not too late to say enough
The Israeli response is only incidentally about the return of the captives. Facile commentators have also explained the Israeli decision by Ehud Olmert's lack of experience and his need to prove himself. It is far-fetched that a sophisticated military response to Hizbullah's abduction of the Israelis turns simply on Olmert improving his resume. What is under way reflects a deep strategy that focuses on Israel's major adversary, Iran, and simultaneously strives to sustain Israeli hegemony over its neighbors.

Otherwise, it is easy to imagine a very potent, and much more measured response to Hizbullah's abductions that focused on building international and regional support for implementing Security Council Resolution 1559 to begin the disarming of Hizbullah. The fact that the more measured strategy was apparently rejected out of hand speaks volumes about the big picture.

While the generals will delight in the prospect of cutting Hizbullah down to size, the more important dimension is preparing the battlefield vis-a-vis Iran. If Hizbullah's capacity to bombard Israel is eliminated, then it will be easier for Israel to attack Iran's nuclear sites later. Israel has obviously been preparing for such an attack for several years, and if the United States and the other players in the so called "Five plus One" group fail in their efforts to temper Iran's nuclear programs, Israel's offensive in Lebanon is likely intended to make it easier to move against Iran.
Israel hits Lebanon, but thinks Iran
posted by y2karl at 1:31 PM on July 18, 2006


blahblahblah, please answer the question: whose consensus?
posted by davy at 1:43 PM on July 18, 2006


One important point, blendor. There are only three Lebanese prisoners held by Israel: Samir Kuntar, Yehya Sekaf, and Nasim Nesser.

Kuntar, the highest profile prisoner, landed in Nahariya as part of a raid on April 22, 1979, and killed 28-year-old Danny Haran, four-year-old daughter Einat, and then smothered two-year old Yael Haran when she made too much noise, and later killed a policeman during a shootout. Not exactly a prisoner of conscience.

There are, however, thousands Palestinians in Israeli jails, of course, many held under much more dubious charges. But as far as Lebanese prisoners are concerned, Syria has all of the Lebanese political prisoners (280 or more), Israel just has the three convicted ones.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:46 PM on July 18, 2006


But Iran is on the other side of the Euphrates from Eretz Yisrael. Bombing Iran is unbiblical!
posted by davy at 1:47 PM on July 18, 2006


raedyn, by consensus, I meant the consensus of commentators in Israeli and US policy circles, though consensus can always change. Some of this is from conversations with people who are far more expert than I, and some is obvious from the Israeli news, which has announced as much. See the speech by FM Livni, Ambassador Alayon's statements on timing of interventions, and the announcements from the IDF that they expect one more week to complete the destruction of the Hezbollah arsenal.

Of course, it is all educated guesswork, and the situation could change quickly. And good links y2karl, though there is a lot of diversity of opinion on Haaretz and the Daily Star, so take any particular view as one persons, and not the definitive view - interested MeFiers should check out both primary sources for a lot more perspectives, as well as the Lebanese bloggers site I gave above, and some of the other Israeli newspapers.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:57 PM on July 18, 2006


"Israeli girls write messages in Hebrew..."

Actually, it's in English, how thoughtful of them. The message seems to be something like "with love from Israel".
posted by hasund at 2:05 PM on July 18, 2006


Thanks for those links, y2karl. The Haaretz article reminds me utterly of American foreign policy post WWII. The same mistakes made over and over again by the same people or their disciples. Dulles brothers to Kissinger to Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Perle. Suck up to corrupt dictators, and in so doing create a climate that hates America for supporting the corrupt dictator. Then decades later, call that country a threat for being anti-American in sentiment and make sure to repeat the problem. The attempted coup in Venezuela is exactly in the mold of what was done to Iran in the 50s. Even when the bastards lose they win, because the result when the coup fails is that the leader by necessity has to react in a more radicalized manner, leaving himself open to more criticism by the US for being 'anti Democracy'.

It's all in the name of keeping certain folks in power... keep enmities as hostile as possible and use that fear to keep the people coming to you.
posted by the_savage_mind at 2:08 PM on July 18, 2006


though there is a lot of diversity of opinion on Haaretz and the Daily Star, so take any particular view as one persons, and not the definitive view...

Pardon me if I am stating the obvious--I don't want to come across as some patronizing twit here or anything--but...well, fucking duh.

Both articles were signed by their writers. Kind of hard to miss, don't you think ?
posted by y2karl at 3:04 PM on July 18, 2006


Some of us have read a newspaper before. We know the drill.
posted by y2karl at 3:06 PM on July 18, 2006


y2karl, calm down, dude, you do sound like "a patronizing twit" - and I was complimenting your selections. But not every newspaper has a diversity of opinions, and lots of Middle Eastern newspapers are government controlled, so I figured it was worth mentioning that these two newspapers were worth reading (unlike, say, Arab News or Arutz Sheva. ), especially as Laor is not exactly a representative of mainstream thought. Sorry if I pissed you off, no need to lash out.
posted by blahblahblah at 3:34 PM on July 18, 2006


Thanks for the overview of the newspapers, blahblahblah. :)
posted by bim at 4:12 PM on July 18, 2006


Palestine doesn't have a hostile society on every one of its borders, only one, so it doesn't really fit.

Well, to be fair I don't think Jordan is too fond of Palestinians, what with their turbulent history together. And I doubt Egypt's sympathy will go any further than those Palestinians who try to relocate to Egypt. But of course with all the screaming and frothing one tends to forget that it's not just Israel that likes to screw the Palestinians.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:33 PM on July 18, 2006


As a contribution to this debate, here is a 1967 article by the Situationist International on the Arab-Israel war (compared and contrasted with the Vietnam war).
posted by Bureau of Public Secrets at 6:22 PM on July 18, 2006


I have another idea: why not nuke the whole damn "Middle East" from the tip of the Sinai to the Turkish border and from the Mediterranean to the Tehran Beltway, flatten the rubble and pave it all smooth? (I'm assuming neutron bombs aren't really viable yet, obviously.) We can use new the flat space for detention camps and Human Re-Engineering laboratories, or something. (Or maybe a big flat billboard saying "WELCOME HOME JESUS!")
posted by davy at 7:18 PM on July 18, 2006


Question: How many times does Israel need to shrink its borders before the made-up ethnicity of "Palestinians" are happy?
posted by grubi at 3:56 PM EST on July 18


Who calls "Palestinian" an ethnicity?
posted by glycolized at 7:59 PM on July 18, 2006


Well glycolized, as I understand it, the "theory" is that the land of Palestine was pretty empty of people, culture and civilization, a backward wasteland forgotten even by the debauched and effete Ottomans' currupt and vicious tax-collectors, until after World War 1 when the British got their Mandate and civilized the place -- by letting mostly-assimilated European Ashenazi Jews come in and "make the desert bloom". That was when Arabs finally started flocking in from all over the "Middle East" to steal the Jews' goodies -- and falsely claim they'd been there all along. You know, "a land without a people for a people without a land."
posted by davy at 9:20 PM on July 18, 2006


Has anyone else noticed the immediate spread of the Israeli talking point that goes something like this: "Well, in fact, Hezbollah is holding Lebanon hostage..." I heard it today on the radio at least three times from three separate people.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:43 PM on July 18, 2006


Theres an awful lot of people spinning this as some kind of tit-for-tat rather than the escalation it is as well.
posted by Artw at 10:42 PM on July 18, 2006


"... after World War 1 when the British got their Mandate and civilized the place -- by letting mostly-assimilated European Ashenazi Jews come in and "make the desert bloom". That was when Arabs finally started flocking in from all over the "Middle East" to steal the Jews' goodies...."

That is such utter bullshit.

The Palestinian coastline is the navel of the Mediteranian, and yet there are people who consistently claim that there was nothing there before 1948.
posted by rougy at 11:19 PM on July 18, 2006


Question: How many times does Israel need to shrink its borders before the made-up ethnicity of "Palestinians" are happy?

Wait, you belive that there are ethnicities which are not made up? That ethnicity is a real, mesureable thing?
posted by delmoi at 11:30 PM on July 18, 2006


Yeah rougy, that "theory" is utter bullshit; it explains the quotes I put around "theory". And delmoi has a damn good point too.
posted by davy at 6:35 AM on July 19, 2006


davy, people have been living in that region for thousands of years. You can check it out in this interesting book called The Bible. I think you can get copies for free somewhere.
posted by bardic at 11:01 AM on July 19, 2006


I think davy was being sarcastic/funny.
posted by chunking express at 11:42 AM on July 19, 2006


Commentary on the picture posted above. May or may not be accurate, make of it what you will.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:45 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


needs more cowbell, was about to post that myself.
posted by blahblahblah at 4:01 PM on July 19, 2006


I didn't get back to see it til the next day, but davy, I got what you were saying from the first ".
posted by glycolized at 5:06 PM on July 19, 2006


Davy - if you stop by here...now I see your ironcialism. Ironicability. Sarcasmachism. Highly educated gluteus...ness.

No. Really.

I mean that.
posted by rougy at 12:04 AM on July 20, 2006


Rougy, I was being sarcastic (but probably not funny), as most people who're obsessed enough to read most of my drivel as it's posted or have nothing better to do than stalk through my history here could tell you. But then even people who are weird enough to mostly like and/or agree with me say I can't write for toffee, so...
posted by davy at 7:49 AM on July 20, 2006


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