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Human Rights Watch, Watched
August 21, 2006 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Human Rights Watch, Watched "Who will guard the guardians?" asked Roman satirist Juvenal. Now we must ask, who is watching Human Rights Watch, one of the world's best-financed and most influential human rights organizations? It turns out that they cook the books about facts, cheat on interviews, and put out pre-determined conclusions that are driven more by their ideology than by evidence. These are serious accusations, and they are demonstrably true.
posted by Postroad (62 comments total)

 
Alan Dershowitz? For a moment I actually took this seriously.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:10 PM on August 21, 2006


They didn't back Israel/America - therefore they must be WRONG and ideologically driven.
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on August 21, 2006


I let my membership to HRC lapse after receiving multiple ads for gay porn in my mailbox. Sure, I know such organizations need to sell their mailing lists to raise revenue, but, c'mon, porn? They also have the most persistent phone solicitors I've ever encountered.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:15 PM on August 21, 2006


yeah Dershowitz is not exactly a blazing beacon of objectivness. His mantle seems rather self selective.
posted by edgeways at 12:16 PM on August 21, 2006


Oops, read the FPP wrong--Human Rights Watch, not Campaign. Still.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:16 PM on August 21, 2006


Dershowitz, isn't he the famous left-liberal lawyer who started cheerleading for torture after 9/11?

Apparently 9/11 (or a threat to Israel) makes hypocrites.
posted by orthogonality at 12:17 PM on August 21, 2006


Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both jumped the shark a long time ago. They spend decades building a reputation, and have squandered it in the last four years. Anyone who has been paying attention has long since noticed that both organizations are afflicted with selective blindness.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:20 PM on August 21, 2006


Here's an angry article about Dershowitz and his position on the Israel/Lebanon conflict.
posted by dsword at 12:22 PM on August 21, 2006


Dershowitz, isn't he the famous left-liberal lawyer who started cheerleading for torture after 9/11?

I'm used to more subtlety from you, ortho. Cheerleading for torture? As I recall, he described situations in which anyone would sanction torture (2 million innocent little girls who could certainly be saved, blah blah) and worked toward reality from there.

His point was that, if torture should be considered as an option, the ability to authorize it should reside at the highest level. That is, rather than pretending we're not doing it, we should give the Commander in Chief the ability to authorize it, but only publicly, with his personal stamp of approval. That way you'd end up with torture only when the Pres wanted to smear his own record with having authorized the torture.

Rather than, you know, whatever the hell we've got now.

Dershowitz can be a real douche, though, yeah.
posted by gurple at 12:23 PM on August 21, 2006


Anyone who has been paying attention has long since noticed that both organizations are afflicted with selective blindness.

Any non-Dershowitz citations for this claim?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on August 21, 2006


Here's an angry article about Dershowitz and his position on the Israel/Lebanon conflict.

Norman Finkelstein is just a self-hating Jew who goes bowling with Chomsky.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 PM on August 21, 2006




Dershowitz is an embarassment.

HRW:

Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack

Dershowitz: Anyone who watched even a smattering of TV during the war saw with their own eyes direct evidence of rockets being launched from civilian areas.

How the hell is this guy even a lawyer? "Rockets launched from civilian areas" does not equal "shield to protect them from retaliatory attack".

Of course he knows the difference, but he's such a disingenuous ass that he thinks the readers are too stupid to figure it out.

And who is he kidding with "saw with their own eyes direct evidence". People saw with their own eyes photoshopped images that were in the newspapers. But that isn't evidence.

In conclusion, Huffington Post is precisely Dershowitz's intellectual level.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:28 PM on August 21, 2006


Sounds like you've got all the answers, Blazecock Pileon.
posted by dsword at 12:30 PM on August 21, 2006


Anyone who has been paying attention has long since noticed that both organizations are afflicted with selective blindness.

In the august circles of yapass American nationalists I suppose this is true.
posted by furiousthought at 12:31 PM on August 21, 2006


Sure, Dershowitz can be a douche, but I think in this case he's quite correct.

Does anybody here actually believe HRW's claim that Hizbullah has not imbedded itself in the civilian population of Lebanon at all in this war?

You don't have to support the neo-cons or Israel's bombing campaign to see that HRW's claims are blatantly untrue and indicative of a strong anti-Israel bias.
posted by SBMike at 12:33 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sounds like you've got all the answers, Blazecock Pileon.

Sorry, forgot the obligatory /joke at the end of the Chomsky comment. Never mind.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:35 PM on August 21, 2006


Dershowitz is incredibly biased...we need other proof of HRW's wrongdoings.

SBMike, they're a social services org, and a recognized political org in Lebanon, with elected officials in the areas they represent. Of course they're there. It's not called imbedded when it's my local senator's office here--why are you calling it imbedded when it's them?

On a sidenote--Hizbollah is the only entity that's rebuilding what Israel bombed. Our government still hasn't rebuilt New Orleans.
posted by amberglow at 12:37 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Dershowitz was always a disingenuous prick. It just happened that he used to be a prick on behalf of underdogs. Then he got greedy. Then he (apparently) got religion. (Camel, eye of needle, yada yada...)

That said, he may have a point about HRW. Though probably not as much of a case, nor as clearly delineated, as he claims.
posted by lodurr at 12:44 PM on August 21, 2006


metafilter: conclusions that are driven more by their ideology than by evidence.
*guffaws*
So, who’s next? Doctors without borders? (How dare those scumbags deliver medical aid to the enemy!) What’s with the fashion in attacking humanitarian groups?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:45 PM on August 21, 2006


HRW’s methods come as close as you can get to an unbiased, scientific investigation into what really goes on in war time. [Full disclosure: I used to work there.] Dershowitz’s entire argument seems to be that there are news reports that don’t conform to HRW’s observations! The entire point of HRW’s methodology is to verify what’s going on rather than relying on hearsay: “All cases for which Human Rights Watch could not find eyewitnesses, survivors, or other credible sources of information have been excluded from this report.

Further, the early August report Dershowitz is refering to explicitly says that its conclusions are preliminary and that further inquiry is required. Indeed, a more recent HRW report said that "Although our investigations are still ongoing, HRW has collected evidence that Hezbollah has stored weapons in or near civilian homes and that fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers. These are serious violations of IHL because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. If done for the purpose of shielding military assets behind civilians, they are war crimes."

I challenge anyone (especially Dershowitz) who thinks HRW has "jumped the shark" to get himself on a plane to a still-smoking warzone and start counting bodies and measuring mortar holes for yourself. Let us know how it goes.
posted by footnote at 12:48 PM on August 21, 2006 [3 favorites]


...Does anybody here actually believe HRW's claim that Hizbullah has not imbedded itself in the civilian population of Lebanon at all in this war

Of course it has. So what?

"Embedded" in the WTC's were the world bank and other oil, financial, and defense related institutions very much directly involved in the suppression of middle east democratic movements. Was it OK for Bin Laden to attack them?

It was the method they chose to "defend" themselves. They deliberately bombed the shit out Lebanese civilians - in the widest scope they could get away with - to send a message to said civilians for supporting Hizbollah in the political process.

There were a hundred other better responses to deal with Hizbullah. But it wasn't Hizbullah Israel is intending this invasion to target. It's IRAN.

But, golly, why would the Lebanese people support a terrorist organization? Hmmm. Maybe because when Israel occupied Lebanon for eighteen years and destroyed an entire country they only people actually providing any kind of relief to the people of the country WERE Hizbullah. It may have been a cynical ploy on the part of Iran and Syria to nurse support for their proxies. But nobody else was helping these people. Especially the people blowing up the place - the IDF.

So WHO does Israel have to blame for Hizbullah? It's fifty fifty, bud. Themselves and Iran.
posted by tkchrist at 12:48 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hizbollah's community outreach is absolutely brilliant, from a strategic standpoint. Even Sunnis love them. (Of course, Lebanese Sunnis are probably not that radical.) They've managed (through hard work and consistent effort, mind you, and with no small assistance from Israeli bombs and bullets) to get themselves devined as honest benefactors of the community.

Sure they're terrorists. Sure they're killers. They're also feeding people. Leave the moral issues aside, and consider the pragmatics: They're teh only onese (as amberglow points out) who are actually doing something useful. Nevermind for the moment that they're a big part of the cause.

Or, well, don't-'nevermind'. Remember it. Because it's a messy shitfest, and if we pretend that it's simple we're doing it a disservice. Dershowitz, though -- he thinks it's simple. Or at least, it serves his ends to have us think it's simple.
posted by lodurr at 12:50 PM on August 21, 2006


HRW is anti-Israel? Then why did it issue this bulletin condemning Hizbullah: "Rocket Attacks on Civilians in Israel Are War Crimes."
posted by storybored at 12:51 PM on August 21, 2006


SBMike, they're a social services org

Just like the Elks or the Rotary club, huh? Seems to me that if they considered the welfare of their people as important as their Jihad against the Jews, the could have used the money spent on all those rockets to provide some food and/or education for their people. Instead, they attacked the most advanced military in the region, knowing that the resulting retaliation would kill many Lebanese.

As a recognized political org in Lebanon, perhaps they should have consulted with the rest of the government before embarking on a war with Lebanon's neighbors.

Holding some seats in the government or handing out some free meals doesn't change the fact that they are terrorists. If they truly are a social services organization, they should focus on helping their people, and give their arms and the sanctioned use of force to the Lebanese army, where they belong.
posted by SBMike at 12:52 PM on August 21, 2006


It's HRW's secret plot to overthrow the system from the inside!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 PM on August 21, 2006


Does anybody here actually believe HRW's claim that Hizbullah has not imbedded itself in the civilian population of Lebanon at all in this war?

It's a pretty disingenious claim which is made by people like Dershowitz only as a means to justify civilian slaughter by Israelis. The reality is that Hezbolla, for a variety of reasons, is tightly integrated with the civilian population. The stories of fighters literally changing their clothes on the field of battle are quite common and well documented.

HRW's claims are blatantly untrue and indicative of a strong anti-Israel bias.

This is where the bullshit starts. Which one of HRW's claims is blatantly untrue? HRW claimed "none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in this report [Qana, Srifa, Tyre, and southern Beirut] is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack." This claim identifies specific events, dates and times. Dershowitz makes no effort whatsoever to prove that Hezbolla fighters were present at those specific dates and times. Instead he relies on the common mishmash of speculative bullshit, dishonest interpretations, and he-said/she-said quotes from various newspapers. All of this is indirection and misleading; none of the quotes directly contradict the HRW claim. Dershowitz will never attempt to put together a comprehensive report detailing the failings of HRW because then his bullshit will become clear. Instead he'll just make the standard accusations of anti-Israel bias (read: Anti-Semitism) and poor fools like Postroad will blindly go along with it.

As rational people, we really supposed to dismiss a widely respected organization like HRW on the word of somebody as chronically dishonest as Dershowitz? Did Iraq teach us anything?

But these sorts of smear campaigns do work well. It's a good tactic and the neocons have elevated it to an art form. Eventually, after the neocons have smeared pretty much everybody (Reuters, UN, the Times, and now HRW), they are going to push themselves to the fringe. Eventually the truth comes out and they end up looking like nutjobs. That's just the way the reality-based world works.
posted by nixerman at 12:56 PM on August 21, 2006


If Dershowitz tells me the sky is blue, I'm going to the window to check.

And if the sky is still blue, well, Dersh is kinda like the proverbial stopped clock.

Except that a stopped clock is incorrect through no fault of it's own and Dershowitz would baldly lie to my or your face. Also, you can't catch the clap by breathing the same air as a clock.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:58 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Dershowitz is scum, and so is anyone who quotes him approvingly.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:59 PM on August 21, 2006


footnote, I hadn't seen the more recent HRW report which acknowledges Hezbollah hiding among the civilian population. Thanks for the post. I have no problem admitting Israel's numerous questionable moral decisions as long as they are presented in a context which acknowledges the wrongdoing of terrorist organizations.

Trying to pass off Hezbollah only as a social services organization goes a bit too far though.
posted by SBMike at 1:04 PM on August 21, 2006


Just like the Elks or the Rotary club, huh? Seems to me that if they considered the welfare of their people as important as their Jihad against the Jews, the could have used the money spent on all those rockets to provide some food and/or education for their people. Instead, they attacked the most advanced military in the region, knowing that the resulting retaliation would kill many Lebanese.

As a recognized political org in Lebanon, perhaps they should have consulted with the rest of the government before embarking on a war with Lebanon's neighbors.

Holding some seats in the government or handing out some free meals doesn't change the fact that they are terrorists. If they truly are a social services organization, they should focus on helping their people, and give their arms and the sanctioned use of force to the Lebanese army, where they belong.


They do provide food and education to the people in their area. The national government of Lebanon does not. They did not attack Israel--Israel attacked them and bombed the whole country in retaliation, eliminating any escape routes out for most in the south. They did not embark on a war with Israel either. They do primarily focus on helping the people--protecting against Israeli aggression is one of those ways. It's no secret that Israel wants the land and water in the south. There is no effective Lebanese Army--if there were, Israel wouldn't have bombed and invaded the way they did.
posted by amberglow at 1:06 PM on August 21, 2006


"Anyone who watched even a smattering of TV during the war"
While there may be some merit to his charges, anyone who claims to know what's going on based on what they saw on TV should always be ignored.
posted by 2sheets at 1:07 PM on August 21, 2006


Salon recently run an interesting article on this same issue: The "hiding among civilians" myth.

…My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

….“You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon," a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. "They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They're completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians -- no discipline and too much showing off."


I believe that the truth is somewhere in between ~ most likely as Hezbollah fighters got more desperate they started using civilian areas more than they would like.

In the end though, Hezbollah is mot much different from IDF which builds its military bases near or even in Israeli cities and uses Palestinians as human shields.
posted by LeavenOfMalice at 1:08 PM on August 21, 2006


The 2 Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbollah that supposedly started this all were not in Israel--they were in Lebanon--where they were not legally allowed to be.

The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them.
The forces were trying to keep the soldiers' captors from moving them deeper into Lebanon, Israeli government officials said on condition of anonymity. ...


Israeli soldiers crossed over into Lebanon, 2 were caught there, and people say it was Hizbollah that started this?? Bullshit.
posted by amberglow at 1:12 PM on August 21, 2006


HRW has not changed, they remain an upstanding example of courageous reporting of wrongdoing by major powers.
posted by cell divide at 1:12 PM on August 21, 2006


Trying to pass off Hezbollah only as a social services organization goes a bit too far though.
posted by SBMike at 4:04 PM EST on August 21 [+] [!]


To be clear, HRW never said that.
posted by footnote at 1:13 PM on August 21, 2006


amberglow: They did not attack Israel...They did not embark on a war with Israel either. They do primarily focus on helping the people--protecting against Israeli aggression is one of those ways. It's no secret that Israel wants the land and water in the south.

Yikes! I don't think even the non-Shiite Lebanese would agree with you on that, amberglow! Hezbollah did indeed, attack Israel, they even admitted it, and the "protecting against Israeli agression" angle seems a bit hollow as well (from "From Beruit to the Beltway"):
I am not of the opinion that Hizbullah has emerged victorious politically in Lebanon. Despite having warned about such a prospect, this argument is not sustainable by the amount of damage their unilateralism has brought. The death and destruction caused by their “defense strategy” speaks of uttermost failure to “defend”. People don’t eat rockets and not all are blessed with a secure path to heaven. Countries do not survive on the kind of hollow victory talk practiced by despots and delusional religious militants. Hizbullah may be able to bribe their own people with rent money, but the rest of the Lebanese population knows that the path of Hizbullah is a straight road to hell. I will say that the day of reckoning has come for Hizbullah. While, unfortunately, it won’t be at the hands of the Shia, at least not now, it will come from the rest of the Lebanese people who cannot afford to live under their obscurantist rhetoric.

And as for this being about "no secret" that Israel wants Lebanese land, I would love to see one source that backs you up on this.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:16 PM on August 21, 2006


most likely as Hezbollah fighters got more desperate they started using civilian areas more than they would like.

They did not get desperate at all, they had it set up like that. There were entire towns near the border outfitted with tunnels so that Hizbullah could draw in the Israelis and ambush them. There is no debate about whether Hizbullah was operating within civilian areas, Al Manar (Hizbullah's tv station) has been showing all week how they defeated the Israelis by using tunnels, fake houses, etc.

Those who call this "using the civilian population" are slightly off their rockers. ISRAEL HAS BEEN INVADING LEBANON FOR 30 YEARS. Hizbullah's towns were under attack, and they knew they would one day come under attack BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT ISRAEL DOES. Israel still occupies the Golan Heights and part of Shebaa Farms, and threatened to invade as recently as 2 years ago because of a water dispute.

Yeah, I'm going Godwin but it's like saying Russians are to blame for Stalingrad, because they should've fought outside the town and spared the civilian population. Well, it's their town and their population, they have massive support, what are they supposed to do? Go into a field and wait to be bombed?

This is not a matter of debate anywhere else in the world! Even here in Israel, people are talking mostly about the failures of the Israeli leaders, not anything to do with whether or not Hizbollah should operate in civilian areas. The whole thing is absurd anywhere other then the United States, where Pro-Israel types, who spend very little time (if ever) actually IN Israel, prattle on nonsensically.
posted by cell divide at 1:23 PM on August 21, 2006


amberglow - You are just plain wrong in saying that the soldiers were captured in Lebanon, as even Hezbollah admits otherwise. From the Guardian:
There has been a heated debate on the internet about whether the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah that day were captured in Israel or in Lebanon, but it now seems pretty clear that they were seized in Israel. This is what the UN says, and even Hizbullah seems to have forgotten that they were supposed to have been found sneaking around the outskirts of the Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab. Now it simply states that "the Islamic resistance captured two Israeli soldiers at the border with occupied Palestine". Three other Israeli soldiers were killed by the militants. There is also some dispute about when, on July 12, Hizbullah first fired its rockets; but Unifil makes it clear that the firing took place at the same time as the raid - 9am. Its purpose seems to have been to create a diversion.
It is pretty sketchy to use a news report from four hours after the attack, when more details came out later. Facts are our friends.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:24 PM on August 21, 2006


And as for this being about "no secret" that Israel wants Lebanese land, I would love to see one source that backs you up on this.

He said Land and Water, and all you've done is reveal yourself to be incredibly ignorant, why should we read anything else you write? Do your own research, but "Eretz Israel" has, since the earliest days of Zionism, included large chunks of Lebanon. Modern Israel has a very large maximalist contingent who always push for expansion, and Israeli water analysis includes 'future sources' of water north of the border, if that becomes necessary. And if you want to go even further back, like, say 2,000 years, you'll find that the Land of Biblical Israel included a big chunk of Lebanon. Ever hear of Cedars of Lebanon? You know, the Jewish Hospital? You think they called it that because they admired Lebanon? I'm pointing out a funny example just to show you how absurd you look-- if you don't know that Israel has designs on Lebanese water/land, you don't know anything about the conflict. In terms of recent history, modern Israel has occupied parts of lebanon for roughly 1/3 of its existence, and relies on water flowing through Lebanon for a sizable portion of its water needs.
posted by cell divide at 1:32 PM on August 21, 2006


For what it's worth, Steve Crawshaw, one of the most decent and courageous journalists I know, went to work for HRW. I would take his view of morality over Alan Dershowitz's any day.
posted by alloneword at 1:32 PM on August 21, 2006


cell divide, come on - how many Israelis do you know that believe that Israel should include southern Lebanon, even including the crazies in the territories? I agree that water is indeed an issue, and that fights over the sources of the Jordan have been common in the Arab-Israeli conflict, but, seriously, did you see ANYONE in 2000 say that Israel should not have pulled out of Southern Lebanon because it was part of Israel?

Your talk about a "very large maximalist contingent" among the Israeli population that wants permanent Lebanese territory is total bullshit.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:38 PM on August 21, 2006


To be fair “The Dersh” did hit the beer bongs pretty hard the night before typing this one up and turning it in. So, go easy on him. Don’t be a dick. C’mon, be cool.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:08 PM on August 21, 2006


Israeli soldiers are still going into Lebanon, even today--who are you kidding, blah?
Israeli reports said Israeli soldiers in south Lebanon shot at least two armed Hezbollah guerrillas Monday night, after they approached the troops in what an army spokesman described as a "threatening manner."


Israeli soldiers go into Lebanon as a matter of course--before, during and after this conflict.
posted by amberglow at 2:09 PM on August 21, 2006


amberglow, you seem to be switching positions. To make this clear:

1) The current round of fighting started when Hezbollah abducted soldiers on the Israeli side of the border, killing 3 others, and firing rockets into Israel. Four more soldiers were killed when they crossed into Lebanon in pursuit of the abductors. You initially claimed this was not true, but every source, including Hezbollah, disagrees with you.

2) Nobody argues that Israeli soldiers are in Lebanon today. They are starting to withdraw, but have not yet pulled out of every area. There is no indication that Israel intends to remain in Lebanon in the medium term.

3) Prior to 2000, Israel occupied Southern Lebanon.

4) Prior to this conflict, but following the pullout in 2000, Israeli soldiers did not "go into Lebanon as a matter of course." Israeli planes did indeed fly over the border many, many times to complaints of both UNIFIL and Lebanon over the years, but I am unaware of any regular sort of ground incursions across the border - perhaps you can provide evidence? Hezbollah did cross the border a few times a year in attacks, and both sides fired across the border occasionally.

Your first statement, that "Israeli soldiers crossed over into Lebanon, 2 were caught there" was just plain incorrect. Your second one, that Israeli soldiers go into Lebanon as a matter of course, is not accurate for the period between 2000 and the start of this war.
posted by blahblahblah at 2:21 PM on August 21, 2006


blahblahblah, Guardian linky, please.
posted by taosbat at 2:34 PM on August 21, 2006


Taosbat, here you go - worth noting that it is in a piece sharply critical of Israel, for those worried about bias. Also, the Guardian article claims that 15 Lebanese prisoners were held by Israel, but I have only heard about three (or possibly four) that Hezbollah actually demanded released. From the BBC:
Israel now admits to holding just three Lebanese. Chief among those is Samir Qantar, serving several life sentences for murder after attacking a civilian apartment block in Nahariya in 1979. A policeman, another man and his four-year-old daughter were killed. A baby girl was accidentally smothered by her mother as she hid in a cupboard....Israel also holds an Israel man of Lebanese descent, Nissim Nasser, arrested in 2002 and convicted of spying for Hezbollah. The third Lebanese prisoner is a fighter called Yehia Skaff, Hezbollah MP Nawar al-Sahili told the BBC. Mr al-Sahili said that Israel also holds a fourth man, a fisherman called Ali Faratan. Israel is also thought to be holding 25 Lebanese citizens of Palestinian origin, many for conventional criminal offences. Their release is not understood to be at the heart of the dispute with Hezbollah.
posted by blahblahblah at 2:45 PM on August 21, 2006


Uncomfortable Truths about Israel
posted by homunculus at 3:04 PM on August 21, 2006


Your first statement, that "Israeli soldiers crossed over into Lebanon, 2 were caught there" was just plain incorrect. Your second one, that Israeli soldiers go into Lebanon as a matter of course, is not accurate for the period between 2000 and the start of this war.

And the Yankees haven't won the series since 2000 either, but that doesn't mean people don't expect it.

I don't know if that metaphor makes any sense, but I don't much care anymore. The Middle East has simply fried my brain by now. One cannot make a single statement without sending the conversation into flames, so it's beyond me to even try. Also, the others on this thread are far more knowledgeable on this than I am, but that doesn't make you all right. Still...

Israel is an aggressive state, and one which reliably oppresses the group that they have been removing from their family homes since their modern inception. In this respect (and others) they could be considered evil. However, we've got to be past the point of debating their right to exist, which means they've got to protect that right, which is constantly under assault by, I dunno, every other country in the region, give or take.

Hizbullah is an aggressive organization, which put the match to this powderkeg when there was no real need to do so. In this respect, they could be considered evil. However, they are the only organization in Lebanon that is doing anything for their people, and with Israel's history of aggression, they've got to defend themselves as well, particularly considering the weakness or the Lebanese government and the essential nonexistence of a Lebabnese army.

I know this is all condescending, and for the record, I don't mean for this to be aimed at blahblahblah or anyone else in particular.

My only point is that, in the end, we all just want to get through our day. In the west, we can usually do that without the incursion of people who hate us for existing. In the middle east, most people just want to get through theur day, but have no such guarantee on their safety, and so the hate runs far deeper than the humanity.

There are three possible solutions to the conflicts. One, we abandon Israel and let the rest of the region swallow them whole. Of course, then the region would go back to sectarian violence, but at least the U.S. wouldn't care because we can't tell Muslims apart anyway and most of the fighting would be about who gets to sell us oil. I'm not in favor of this one, myself.

Two, we throw all possible military support behind Israel, and get Canada, Great Britain, and whoever else will still answer our calls to do so as well. Then we overthrow the whole region, with Israel/U.S. puppets in power across the middle east. The pin goes back in the grenade for five years at most before erupting in a fashion we've never even imagined before. I'm not in favor of this either.

Three, we get the leaders to get over the good/evil, us/them mentality, and actively enforce peace from within their own borders, with U.S., U.N. and NATO support, and build economic ties between them. The hatred still runs deep, but without any way to act on it, and less present and consistent basis for it, it dissipates over the generations.

Of course three is the most difficult and unlikely, but it's also the only viable solution. The only one that will work, the only one that anyone can truly get behind, I hope. The first step is a cease-fire, but the second step is for everyone else in the world to stop thinking that we all have to choose sides. We don't. They're all wrong, and the violence of the situation does nothing to lend creedence to it's essential pettiness. Stop choosing sides. Stop supporting the us/them good/evil mentality that is keeping this going.

And if that doesn't work, then let Palestine and Israel each get the land for six months out of the year. They can have New Jersey for the other half. The differences will be resolved within a year.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:35 PM on August 21, 2006


Also, before the flaming begins, I know that I'm an idiot about all this, and I'm happy to admit it. I didn't go into the details because they just give more perceived weight to the hatred, and as I outlined above, I doubt that will do anything except lead to more killings.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:40 PM on August 21, 2006


Thanks
posted by taosbat at 3:52 PM on August 21, 2006


I think the issue, blah, is less about what ordinary Israelis think at any given time, and what the leadership is prepared to do if the situation presents itself. Given the (very recent and ancient) past (and present-- Golan Heights, West Bank, Shebaa Farms), I don't think it's completely unreasonable (show me one source!) to say that Israel has designs on Lebanon and its water. I can't help but think if we were talking about any other country in the world, this wouldn't be immediately obvious.
posted by cell divide at 3:53 PM on August 21, 2006


Sorry, I'm an idiot. I mean to say, if we were discussing any other country in the world, this would be obvious.
posted by cell divide at 3:54 PM on August 21, 2006



How come the only country in the world expected to give back territory it won *after being aggressively attacked* is Israel?

Everywhere else, you conquer someone, you keep the land. Especially when *they attacked you first.*

As far as I know, Israel never set out to take over extra territory beyond its original borders-- it only ever took land after being attacked. if it wanted Lebanon, why would it have withdrawn in the first place?

I'm certainly not an expert in this area and you can argue whether Israel should have existed where it does in the first place-- but I find it odd that when a country is attacked, for example, on one of its most sacred holidays and wins nonetheless, the rest of the time is spent complaining that they should give back what they won.
posted by Maias at 6:20 PM on August 21, 2006


maias,

"Everywhere else, you conquer someone, you keep the land."


Oh, you mean like Iraq and Kuwait?
Or US and [Afghanistan, Iraq] ?
posted by mulligan at 6:41 PM on August 21, 2006


Cell divide, if you really want to argue about Israel and its designs on Lebanon for water, the UN, of all groups, put out a rather insanely detailed book titled "Hydropolitics along the Jordan River," which concludes a chapter on hydroconspiracy with the following:
First, water resources were not a factor in Israeli strategic planning in the hostilities of 1967, 1978, or 1982. By this I mean that the decision to go to war, and strategic decisions made during the fighting (including which territory it was necessary to capture), were not influenced by water scarcity or the location of water resources. The location of water resources was not considered to constitute a strategic position (except in the purely military sense), nor was it a factor in retaining territory immediately after the hostilities. In the mid-1970s, however, a narrow band of the West Bank did begin to be claimed as crucial to retain for hydrologic reasons. This is true also of the Banias springs, El-Hama, and some strategic overlooks on the Golan Heights.

Second, there is no evidence that Israel is diverting any water from the Litani River, either by pipe or by truck. In fact, since 1985, when central southern Lebanon lost its own water supply, an average of 50,000 m3/month has been piped into that region from wells in northern Israel....
That doesn't mean, however, that water has not played a place in war (and peace) in the region on both sides. Syria built a diversion project on the Jordan in the 1960s that played a big role in the lead up to 1967, and Israel did indeed protest and threaten after the Wazzani (not Litani) river was partially diverted; although no action was taken. Happily, water can also be a key to peace -- water sharing was one of the issues that helped build relationships with Jordan.

All this is probably too much information, but the arguments that this war was about Israel wanting Lebanese land or water don't really seem to have any foundation.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:04 PM on August 21, 2006


How come the only country in the world expected to give back territory it won *after being aggressively attacked* is Israel?

Funny, Japan still seems to be an independent nation, as does Germany, Italy...

There are different types of wars, not all of them wars of conquest.
posted by edgeways at 10:01 PM on August 21, 2006



Japan, Germany and Italy *attacked everyone else*-- and the U.S. didn't go into Iraq or Kuwait intending to conquer and keep them.
posted by Maias at 5:11 AM on August 22, 2006


I'm kind of stunned by Maias's question. Discarding the subtext of Israeli victimhood, it's a really strange question on the face. Nations who go to war are usually "exptected" to give back what they "won", regardless of their motive for entering into the conflict in the first place.

The important question is whether they're obligated to, and by whose lights. So Maias should be asking, "Why do so many people expect Israel to give land back that they've taken?"
posted by lodurr at 5:50 AM on August 22, 2006


So you're saying that Israel *did* go into Lebanon intending to conquer and keep it? I'm confused now.
posted by talitha_kumi at 8:04 AM on August 22, 2006


Maias - er, what in the hell are you talking about?
posted by Artw at 8:06 AM on August 22, 2006


Nevermind! Historically, I do not believe it was the case that nations who won territory in war were later expected to give it back. For example, America did not get given back to England after the revolution. Eastern Europe wasn't exactly restored to itself either, after WWII as far as I know.

Recently, we have developed this policy that even if you are attacked by a neighbor and that neighbor is still hostile, you have to give them back what you won--and it seemed to me that it applies especially to Israel.

But I am no expert on this area and could be completely wrong.
posted by Maias at 12:18 PM on August 22, 2006


Wars aren't games, Maias. There aren't rules like "winners-keepers." In fact, England did expect to "get it back", and it took another war to disabuse them of the notion.

The Palestinians "expect" to get back their territory (now, their parents' territory). The Egyptians expected to get the Sinai back. Yes. these things are true. But the Germans expected to get the east back from the Soviets, the French expected to get France back from the Germans, and a lot of indians expect (fruitlessly) to get their territory back from the US gov.

A lot of people expect a lot of things. Sometimes they get them. It largely depends on the confluence of how much / how hard they're willing to fight with how much the "winner" feels they need to hang onto the territory.
posted by lodurr at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2006


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