Gaza's tragically peculiar economy
March 23, 2010 10:41 PM   Subscribe

Gaza's tragically peculiar economy - Last week Palestinians marked the 1,000th day of the "siege" of the Gaza Strip. The continuing economic embargo, with its attendant social and economic effects on the more than 1.5 million Gazans, makes for a depressing story. Equally depressing is the extent to which this situation has somehow become accepted as normal and acceptable by much of the international community.

From the article: "Today, what is or is not allowed into Gaza is never entirely clear and can change from month to month. Broomsticks and chamomile have recently been permitted; toys, music, books, and shampoo with conditioner have been prohibited; and the importation of pasta required the direct intervention of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Almost all of the materials needed for reconstruction after Operation Cast Lead last year have been blocked, although some imports of glass have finally been permitted after months of extended negotiation. As a result of this, there is little productive enterprise within Gaza today. It is only recently that Israel has started to permit limited exports [PDF] of cut flowers and strawberries, for example, after seven months of blockage."
posted by nevercalm (64 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
This was also interesting: Tunnel Youth, about the teens who work the smuggling tunnels.
posted by nevercalm at 10:52 PM on March 23, 2010


And for the human beings that are into a perpetual generational cycle of violence:

.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:57 PM on March 23, 2010


I will never understand how impoverishing a group of people is supposed to keep the neighbors safe.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:00 PM on March 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Maybe there will be some maturity here. I think maybe that the fact that the article doesn't necessarily focus on the Israelis, but the economics of the tunnel economies.

For instance, I was interested in how Hamas restricts weapons bc of their fear of said weapons falling into the hands of Fatah, instead using their own tunnels to do that importation.

Similarly, the role of the Egyptians, who both don't necessarily want to stop it, and don't want the Palestinian problem dumped in their laps.
posted by nevercalm at 11:07 PM on March 23, 2010


Let's not do this. These kinds of threads never go well.

There are certainly some pretty bad I/P posts that ought to be deleted, but avoiding all discussion of a human tragedy because the "threads don't go well" is such a cop-out.
posted by delmoi at 11:20 PM on March 23, 2010 [36 favorites]


I'm genuinely confused by the politics involved in the blockade. Is Israel just acting out of the hope that buckling down on even basic life supplies will force Hamas to cave? Because it seems like creating more and more unemployed, bored young men with very restricted lives (and ever more legitimate beefs against their neighbors) has always engendered the opposite of security. The whole situation scares and depresses me.
posted by lauranesson at 11:35 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is Israel just acting out of the hope that buckling down on even basic life supplies will force Hamas to cave?

The answer exists simultaneously on numerous levels, depending on your level of cynicism. On the most facile level, yes. Exactly. They are looking to break the spirit of the uprising and force peace.

But then you can get into all the other levels, and this is where things start to get messy and things go quickly south. You can get into the chicken/egg argument, the human rights issues, there are so many problems.

Honestly, tho, I'd rather just see this be about the economics of a subdued society which is expected to flourish without being given that ability. All the other stuff aside, the tunnels, the culture, the backroom machinations that surround the sort of open knowledge and tacit approval of them is really very interesting to me. The Israelis must know where they are and who the major players are, as must the Egyptians. So all the major players know what's going on. It has to go on, or else everyone will surely die. What's the backstory?
posted by nevercalm at 11:43 PM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


They are looking to break the spirit of the uprising

Democratically elected governments are not, in general, considered uprisings.
posted by Malor at 11:56 PM on March 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm genuinely confused by the politics involved in the blockade.

It's always the same. Country A wants to retaliate against Country B for some slight. There are four options available: (a) do nothing, (b) diplomatic sanctions, (c) economic sanctions, (d) war and violence. The issue is not so violent as to permit a declaration of war. Diplomatic sanctions, harsh words, have not rectified the situation after a short while. The next step is economic sanctions, of which blockade is a severe form of.

Economic sanctions always fail. Iraq, Serbia, Palestine. After a few months the initial friction is forgotten, though no resolution has been made. The government in power in Country B is always -- ALWAYS -- able to leverage the sanction in their favor. The government retains and indeed increases its power, while the citizens suffer more. Despite the goal being to starve the government in Country B, and have the citizens toss the belligerents from power, it never happens. Country B is able to frame the sanction as an act of aggression, independent of any past. Citizen Bs blame Country A for being deprived. Countries C, D, and E eventually too blame Country A for the situation, despite agreeing that "something must be done" when it began. Country A now faces the same choice they did after the initial friction, with only two options: lift sanctions and do nothing, or go to war and drive the government out by force.
posted by FuManchu at 12:01 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Democratically elected governments are not, in general, considered uprisings.

Very correct, and something that I would've called out should someone else have written it. Thanks.
posted by nevercalm at 12:03 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Economic sanctions always fail.

It worked against Biafra. (Brutally, and with huge loss of life, of course. But Biafra is not independent now; their revolution failed.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:06 AM on March 24, 2010


Is this the thread where I eventually get to lower my opinions of mefites I generally admire but who have issues with this issue?
posted by maxwelton at 12:26 AM on March 24, 2010


Is this the thread where I eventually get to lower my opinions of mefites I generally admire but who have issues with this issue?

Hopefully, no. With some luck this will just be a decent discussion. Or else the fact that it was posted in the middle of the night (I'm in Hawaii, 6 hrs behind East Coast Time) means it'll just fall off the map.

I'll flag and Meta the bastard myself, otherwise.
posted by nevercalm at 12:32 AM on March 24, 2010


On a very shallow level, there's something romantic about the smuggling tunnels. On every other level, of course, the situation is seriously messed up.
posted by Harald74 at 12:43 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Similarly, the role of the Egyptians, who both don't necessarily want to stop it, and don't want the Palestinian problem dumped in their laps.

I don't see why they should - the idea that Palestinians should just all emigrate from what remains of their land to Egypt is a breathtakingly obnoxious view. Even if it did have any validity, the ongoing destruction visited upon Lebanon suggests that having Palestinians in your country has caused some Israeli governments to feel they have carte blanche to invade or bomb it.

I will never understand how impoverishing a group of people is supposed to keep the neighbors safe.

Trying to be nice and not offend the neighbours in Europe got pogroms and the Holocaust. Kicking the shit out of the neighbours got the modern state of Israel. If I was an Israeli Jew, I might be pretty sceptical that being nice is going to work out so well.

the tunnels

A lot of this puts me in mind of the Byzantine ways in which drugs flow into the United States.
posted by rodgerd at 1:20 AM on March 24, 2010


Economic sanctions always fail

It depends. It worked out, in combination with heavy political pressure, in South Africa. It's forced through a modicum of change in Zimbabwe.

The issue in I/P is that economic sanctions have no end game - as long as Palestinians are under the cosh, as long as Israel builds on settlements and presents unfavorable solutions to peace (and I highlight Israel because it is the senior partner in this relationship), there will always be a significant militant wing who wants more.. equity.

At the same time, sanctions may be what the Israeli public want - or what the government believes they want - but nobody seems to be asking the question of how, and for how long a burgeoning Palestinian population is supposed to be constrained by such a punitive strategy.

There's an interesting, but unrelated book by Tony Thompson on gangs in Britain. His point is that armed gangs thrive when communities are put under pressure - where they start out being defenders and become an end in themselves. It seems fairly self-evident that the Israeli strategy towards Hamas is a larger example of this.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:51 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


As these threads quickly get inflamatory I am not going to comment just provide a few links.
Please be aware that there is no love for the neighbour in related pages but as reporting anything from Gaza is difficult these might give some idea as to how the populace is trying to survive.
Gaza is coastal. There are Fishing restictions. In 2008 fishing accounted for 1.5 percent of Gaza’s economy (agriculture and fishing together accounted for 10 percent).
Agricultural land in the buffer zone is a no go area.
Gaza has a section in the daily Palestine Telegraph.
Ahmed Moor sends a laptop to Gaza.
The siege is more than "unacceptable".
"a land ripped apart and scarred, the lives of its people blighted. Gaza is decaying under the weight of continued devastation, unable to function normally ...The decline and disablement of Gaza's economy and society have been deliberate, the result of state policy -- consciously planned, implemented and enforced ... And just as Gaza's demise has been consciously orchestrated, so have the obstacles preventing its recovery."
posted by adamvasco at 2:07 AM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Kicking the shit out of the neighbours got the modern state of Israel.

It also got Germany the Treaty of Versailles, among other problems.
posted by delmoi at 2:15 AM on March 24, 2010


(Also, the holocaust didn't actually start until Germany started losing the war. Their original plan was just to exile all the Jews, but that became impossible as the war went on)
posted by delmoi at 2:17 AM on March 24, 2010


Lock them away in an untenably small area, with nothing going in or out without the permission of the jailers... that idea sounds so familiar...
posted by Meatbomb at 2:23 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


the holocaust didn't actually start until Germany started losing the war. Their original plan was just to exile all the Jews, but that became impossible as the war went on

I'm surprised that you could think this. Jews in countries conquered by Germany were generally not able to leave and there was no attempt to resettle them anywhere other than in ghettos and concentration camps. Death squads (Einsatzgruppen) followed the German army's advance into the Soviet Union, and the Wannsee conference (at which the Final Solution was articulated) took place in January 1942, well before the German advance had been stymied in Stalingrad towards the end of that year.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:01 AM on March 24, 2010 [14 favorites]


It also got Germany the Treaty of Versailles, among other problems.

So? The experience of history for Israeli Jews has been that, in the 20th century, policies of assimilation and getting along were an unmitigated disasters. Policies of strength have been far more successful. You can argue that means Israel is now making the mistake of fighting the last war, as it were, but I don't think it's a small part of understanding why Israeli governments tend to formulate aggressive responses to their neighbours.
posted by rodgerd at 3:09 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see some of you are all more interested in talking about / rehashing and squabbling about history.

Meanwhile World Water Day: Thirsty Gaza residents battle salt, sewage.
Gaza imports Fish.

Goods and equipment earmarked for rebuilding languish in storage outside Gaza and much of Gaza still lies in ruins.
Here is a pdf report Failing Gaza Compiled by the following organisations: Amnesty International UK; Broederlijk Delen (Belgium); CAFOD (UK); CCFD Terre Solidaire (France); Christian Aid (UK and Ireland); Church of Sweden; Diakonia (Sweden); Finn Church Aid (Finland); Medical Aid for Palestinians; medico international (Germany); medico international schweiz (Switzerland); Mercy Corps; MS ActionAid Denmark; Oxfam International; Trocaire (Ireland); United Civilians for Peace (a coalition of Dutch organisations - Oxfam Novib, Cordaid, ICCO,; and IKV Pax Christi)
Notice not much US involvement there.

Something else that didn't seem to run in the US Media (possibly eclipsed by US healthcare)
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon slams Israel blockade of Gaza
posted by adamvasco at 3:45 AM on March 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


The issue is not so violent as to permit a declaration of war. ... The next step is economic sanctions, of which blockade is a severe form of.

A blockade isn't just an embargo. Refusing to trade with someone is generally considered "sanctions", but refusing to let anyone else trade either is traditionally an act of war.
posted by roystgnr at 4:37 AM on March 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Refusing to trade with someone is generally considered "sanctions", but refusing to let anyone else trade either is traditionally an act of war.

That's actually the case. What's unstated is that both Hamas and Israel consider themselves at war with one another. What's unclear is what they hope to achieve by being at war with each other. It seems like they're marking time, hoping the magic fairies will bring all of Islam to crush the Jewish Oppressors, or to make the Palestinians modernized first-world neighbors. Magic fairies don't work that way, and neither is the conflict.

What it's really doing is propping up nationalist regimes on either side of the fence, and they both like the status quo too much to change the state of affairs. So they all allow the tunnels to operate... Hamas, Egypt, Israel. Perpetual war is good for business. Just ask Xe and Halliburton.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:22 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


What it's really doing is propping up nationalist regimes on either side of the fence

And worth noting again that this is a proxy war to some degree, with Iran on one side and the US on the other.

I think it's a stretch to see Israel as a projection of American power on the region - I think the ties are arguably more emotional than that - but certainly Iran sees it as its business to project power covertly in both Gaza and elsewhere like Iraq.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:39 AM on March 24, 2010


How come if this happens to white people we mobilize the two most powerful air forces in the world at the time?
posted by Talez at 5:54 AM on March 24, 2010


@Talez - Gaza is being blockaded because it is governed by a terrorist group that has committed countless acts of aggressions against civilians in Israel and who refuse to recognize the existence of the Jewish state. It has nothing to do with the color of the victim's skin. Your suggestion otherwise is nothing short of racist.
posted by falameufilho at 6:12 AM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


AIPAC Conference Highlights U.S.-Israel Tensions
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. secretary of state: New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines that mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides say they want and need.

And it exposes daylight between Israel and the United States that others in the region hope to exploit. It undermines America's unique ability to play a role, an essential role, in the peace process.
Bibi: Israel's Dick Cheney
After watching Netanyahu's government over the past year, I have concluded that he is actually not serious about the Iranian threat. If tackling the rise of Iran were his paramount concern, would he have allowed a collapse in relations with the United States, the country whose military, political, and economic help is indispensable in confronting this challenge? If taking on Iran were his central preoccupation, wouldn't he have subordinated petty domestic considerations and done everything to bolster ties with the United States? Bibi likes to think of himself as Winston Churchill, warning the world of a gathering storm. But he should bear in mind that Churchill's single obsession during the late 1930s was to strengthen his alliance with the United States, whatever the costs, concessions, and compromises he had to make...

Iran's rise has also placed Israel in the unusual position of being on the same strategic side as the major Arab states, as well as the United States. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are all deeply worried about the hegemonic ambitions of Iran, particularly if it obtains nuclear weapons. A core Israeli objective should be to strengthen this tacit alliance. What the moderate Arab states ask for, again and again, publicly and privately, is that Israel make some progress—even if only for appearances' sake—on the peace process. The single biggest challenge for these countries is that Iran has appropriated the Palestinian cause, which makes it difficult for, say, the Egyptian government to take a public stand that is hostile to Tehran. Lowering the temperature on this issue would benefit the Arab states, strengthen their will to stand up against Iran, and contribute directly to Israeli security.

But Israel right now appears to be largely unconcerned about the dangers that gather, or at least unwilling to make any real concessions to deal with them... Over the past decade, in various public forums, Arab statesmen led by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia have declared that they would be willing to normalize relations with Israel if the Palestinian problem were resolved. The Palestinians in the West Bank have extremely good leadership, with President Mahmoud Abbas committed to a peaceful path to a two-state solution and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad committed to a competent, clean, and effective Palestinian government that focuses on economic growth, not violence. Yes, there are problems—Hamas being the central one—but compared with any previous point in their history, the Palestinians are being led wisely.

Meanwhile, the central problem persists: Israel rules more than 3 million Palestinians who will never become citizens of Israel and yet do not have their own state. As they multiply, Israel's status as a democracy becomes more and more complex; the country looks more and more like an island of rich Israelis set in a sea of Palestinian serfs. If gradually the two-state solution becomes impossible to implement—because of Israeli settlements, Palestinian rejectionism, whatever—Israel's own Arab population will threaten the state's Jewish character, and be even further radicalized. Israel will be left with only the institutions of government, having undermined both its democracy and its Jewish character...

Israel has adopted a purely military response to these security threats but throughout history, the most durable security has come from political arrangements that reduce or eliminate external threats. Bibi Netanyahu makes bold speeches about protecting Israel but when it comes time to act, he has cobbled together a coalition of extreme parties, made concessions to them on crucial issues, given them free rein to undermine Israel's broader security, and pandered to his public's most populist instincts—all to ensure than he can sit in the prime minister's chair.
An Apartheid State
posted by kliuless at 6:19 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It worked against Biafra. (Brutally, and with huge loss of life, of course. But Biafra is not independent now; their revolution failed.)

Is that what happened to Biafra? My mother used to tell me to finish my dinner because there were starving children there. Having not heard about them in decades, I just assumed that things turned out okay for them, especially after having finished my vegetables and the like.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:23 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


@Talez - Gaza is being blockaded because it is governed by a terrorist group that has committed countless acts of aggressions against civilians in Israel and who refuse to recognize the existence of the Jewish state. It has nothing to do with the color of the victim's skin. Your suggestion otherwise is nothing short of racist.

Ah, the heart of the issue.

Last year, I had the opportunity to hear former SecState Madeline Albright speak to a room full of people about her time in government. She devoted a good portion of her talk to her collection of pins, but also touched on the I/P conflict. She held this belief, though better-articulated and less inflammatory, that despite being a genuine purveyor of social services Hamas was nonetheless a terrorist organization and therefore ineligible to participate in international negotiations. Can't negotiate with terrorists, right?

Wrong, in my opinion. From the council on foreign relations:
"Approximately 90 percent of its work is in social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities," writes the Israeli scholar Reuven Paz.
That's nine babies for every unit of bathwater we throw out by implying that Hamas is all about-- or even mostly about violence and terrorism. Eight Israelis died in 2008 (the peak year for rocket and mortar attacks) as the result of rocket fire and shelling from Gaza, and four of those casualties occurred during Operation Cast Lead. That sucks, and fuck the Al-Qassam Brigades for doing it and fuck Hamas for funding them, but the numbers just don't support the continued assertion that Hamas is a big-T Terrorist organization.

Which brings us to the blockade, not only of imported and exported goods, but also of Palestinian labor. Israel continues to use this flimsy excuse-- that Hamas is a terrorist organization-- as a way to justify its economic sanctions and travel restrictions. Its end goal is the defeat of Hamas, but the end result only makes the Palestinian people more dependent on social services and handouts, which strengthens Hamas.

Where to go from here pragmatically is anyone's guess. I got out of the IAff field years ago because I wasn't up to tackling this problem; I'll only add that calling people racist is not going to get anyone anywhere, and neither is the obtuse belief that Hamas funding of the Al-Qassam brigades makes them any more of a terrorist group than does US Funding of Blackwater Xe.
posted by The White Hat at 6:51 AM on March 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


(Also, the holocaust didn't actually start until Germany started losing the war. Their original plan was just to exile all the Jews, but that became impossible as the war went on)
posted by delmoi at 8:17 PM on March 24 [+] [!] Other [3/3]: «≡·


Those poor Nazis. Ever read a book?
posted by Wolof at 7:08 AM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


That despite being a genuine purveyor of social services Hamas was nonetheless a terrorist organization and therefore ineligible to participate in international negotiations. Can't negotiate with terrorists, right?

Ironic when you consider that Hamas was initially supported by Israel as an alternative to the "ultra-terrorist" Arafat and his PLO. It bears remembering that Hamas was democratically elected by the people of Gaza.

So much for democracy being a game changer.
posted by three blind mice at 7:34 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Either Israel commits genocide, which beyond some truly fringe elements in Israeli society I don't think anyone there wants, or they have to make some pretty significant concessions to produce an equable two state solution and that seems to be politically impossible. Which leaves this horrible grinding limbo.

Meanwhile Israel continues to demonstrate bad faith by building ever more "settlements", Hamas continues to demonstrate bad faith by funding genuine terrorists, and people are dying.

I do put most of the responsibility for ending this on Israel, because they are the only ones with the power to end the problem.

I don't see a third option beyond genocide, or an equable two state solution, and I am therefore baffled and frustrated by Israeli actions as they appear to be based on the genuinely insane idea that somehow, if they just beat the Palestinians into the ground enough, they'll just give up and live peacefully forever in sub-third world refugee camps.

Since Joe Israeli, isn't seriously inconvenienced by the grind I don't see it ending anytime soon, if ever. The general populous there seems perfectly content to accept a constant low level of terrorism rather than solve the problem, and until that changes the grind continues.

Depressing.
posted by sotonohito at 9:28 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


The end of the blockade would also probably require some international peace force on the ground. Without some sort of comprehensive peace plan enforced by a third party, ending the blockade would probably just result in more deaths on both sides.
posted by rosswald at 10:12 AM on March 24, 2010


Either Israel commits genocide, which beyond some truly fringe elements in Israeli society I don't think anyone there wants,

Well, I'm not so sure. I don't think many people in Israel want to commit genocide directly - but I've had a lot of fairly civil conversations with Israelis where they lay out what they think is a good plan for Palestine and I ask, "But how will the Palestinians live then?" and I get an answer like, "That's not our problem."

For decades now, Israel as a country has systematically pursued policies that would lead to the extinction of the Palestinian people within my lifetime. It's absolutely not like Israel is monolithic - indeed, a lot of what I'm writing I get from progressive Israeli sources who are far more bitterly opposed to this than any American could ever be - but I believe it's unreasonable as well to say that only truly fringe elements in Israeli society are supporting Israel's policies.

(I also think the word "genocide" is so loaded that it probably should never be used by either side in the interests of civil conversation.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:21 AM on March 24, 2010


For decades now, Israel as a country has systematically pursued policies that would lead to the extinction of the Palestinian people within my lifetime.

You mean "suffering," not "extinction," right? Because Palestinians are on track to outnumber Israelis. That's the reason the one-state solution has always done poorly in Israeli public opinion.
The main obstacle is the fact that demographic trends show the likelihood of a near-term majority Arab population west of the Jordan River (including the land within the internationally recognized borders of the state of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza). The probability that Palestinians would constitute an electoral majority in a binational state is seen by many Israeli Jews as a threat to the very premise of Israel, which is imagined as a state for the Jews. A 2000 poll soon after the outbreak of the second intifada found 18% of Israeli Jews supported a binational solution.
posted by zvs at 10:29 AM on March 24, 2010


You know who else saw a downtrodden group as a threat to the very premise of his country?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:25 AM on March 24, 2010


Thomas Jefferson?
posted by Copronymus at 11:29 AM on March 24, 2010


Meanwhile Israel continues to demonstrate bad faith by building ever more "settlements", Hamas continues to demonstrate bad faith by funding genuine terrorists, and people are dying.

The thing about the settlements is that they're a ratchet. Even if the Israeli left manages to win an election, the most they can do in any given term is to halt settlement expansion, the political will required to remove settlements simply does not exist anywhere in Israeli politics.

Not only that, but many settlers have now been born and raised and had children of their own in some of the older and larger settlements. The impact of the Israeli military moving out tens of thousands of civilians from their homes would be enough to wreck even the sternest coalition in the Knesset.

Settlers serve in frontline regiments disproportionally compared to urban Israelis. Military discipline is tight, but would it be tight enough for young soldiers from these settlements to forcibly move crying mothers and children out of their homes?

The historical resonance of forcing Jews from their homes is a powerful thing, enough that it makes me as a non-Israeli, non-Jew with many Palestinian friends viscerally uncomfortable. Never mind that it is legally right, that it is morally right, or that fruit from a poisoned tree can never be just, I just find it frightening to contemplate.

and then moving them... where? Not to refugee camps, or anything else with the word "camp" in it, in God's name.

That is why settlement building must be stopped, because every settlement built is one that is never going away. Every settlement with its security corridor leading back to Israel is another diminution of the territory that the Palestinians need to ever have a state of their own. The Israeli Right knows this, that is why they stall and apologise, and build a few more settlement houses.
posted by atrazine at 11:30 AM on March 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Economic sanctions always fail

As was mentioned above, they were effective against South Africa's Apartheid regime.

The success of that campaign is considered by many to be one of the reasons it's illegal for Americans to (officially) participate in a boycott of Israel.

This includes boycotting companies complicit in/profiting from the occupation.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:03 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Military discipline is tight, but would it be tight enough for young soldiers from these settlements to forcibly move crying mothers and children out of their homes?

The historical resonance of forcing Jews from their homes is a powerful thing, enough that it makes me as a non-Israeli, non-Jew with many Palestinian friends viscerally uncomfortable.


Did it make you uncomfortable in 2005 when the IDF evicted 8500 Israelis from the Gaza Strip as part of Ariel Sharon's Disengagement plan? There were crying mothers and screaming protesters who made all sorts of Nazi comparisons then too, but they still did it.

I don't see why this would be much different.
posted by lullaby at 12:15 PM on March 24, 2010


Yes, it did make me uncomfortable.

There were only 8,500 settlers in Gaza. There are 500,000 in the West Bank.
posted by atrazine at 12:19 PM on March 24, 2010


Juan Cole raises an interesting point :-
Netanyahu met Obama in Washington on Tuesday, and like clockwork Israel embarrassed Obama by announcing that same day it was going ahead with a building project (funded by an American millionaire) in East Jerusalem that the Obama administration had strictly told the Israelis to halt. What I don't understand is why the Palestinians cannot sue over this issue in American courts. If the administration's stance is that East Jerusalem does not belong to Israel, and the US is signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, then why couldn't Palestinians with standing sue in the US when their property is usurped by an American millionaire? The new project is funded by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz.
posted by adamvasco at 1:13 PM on March 24, 2010


So? The experience of history for Israeli Jews has been that, in the 20th century, policies of assimilation and getting along were an unmitigated disasters

Well, the point is, things that happen to one group of people can also happen to other groups of people. Which means if someone does something, and it turns out poorly for them, it's not a good idea to try doing it yourself.

If you do one thing, and it doesn't work, that doesn't necessarily mean you should do the opposite. For example. If you drive off the road to the right, and have an accident. You should not then drive off the road to the left, once you get your car fixed.

Also, Jewish people seem to have done well by "assimilation and getting along" in the U.S.

Those poor Nazis. Ever read a book?

Have I ever read a book? Uh, yes. This is a very bizarre statement really, I mean, different books say different things. Why would reading "a book" make me believe what you believe, whatever that is. Of course, you don't actually even say what you believe.

The main point I was making was that "aggression against all neighbors" was a terrible decision for Germany overall. It also worked out really poorly for the Japanese too.
posted by delmoi at 9:54 PM on March 24, 2010



Trying to be nice and not offend the neighbours in Europe got pogroms and the Holocaust. Kicking the shit out of the neighbours got the modern state of Israel. If I was an Israeli Jew, I might be pretty sceptical that being nice is going to work out so well.


Sorry for the late reply, but rodgerd, I never said anything about "trying to be nice and not offend the neighbours." There is a big difference between that and massive economic sanctions and blockading that lead to rampant poverty. Please don't put words in my mouth and bring up the Holocaust in the same sentence.
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:25 PM on March 24, 2010


Have I ever read a book? Uh, yes. This is a very bizarre statement really, I mean, different books say different things.

I think he was talking about your assertion that the Nazis planned to exile the Jews, but began the Holocaust because they were losing the war. He didn't think that you were some kind of neo-Nazi historical revisionist, so he suggested that you simply didn't know much about the Holocaust.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:20 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It bears remembering that Hamas was democratically elected by the people of Gaza.

Actually they were democratically elected by the people of Palestine. Fatah lost the elections but refused to recognize the results or share power, and with the backing of israel/America they fucked their people [as they have done for decades].

Economic sanctions always fail

I'm sure the Boycott, Divestment, and Sactions people would hope to disagree with that.

The historical resonance of forcing Jews from their homes is a powerful thing, enough that it makes me as a non-Israeli, non-Jew with many Palestinian friends viscerally uncomfortable.

The historical resonance of forcing Palestinians from their homes is a powerful thing, enough that it makes me as a non-Palestinian with many Jewish friends viscerally uncomfortable.

I am sorry that you are uncomfortable at the idea of evicting unlawful settlers who are a tool for the continued ethnic cleansing of the region. It must be so horrible for you. I suppose you can look at the bright side and keep a smile on your face when Palestinians are illegally evicted from their lands and their homes are demolished.

and then moving them... where? Not to refugee camps, or anything else with the word "camp" in it, in God's name.

Right, that would be insensitive.
posted by xqwzts at 2:08 AM on March 25, 2010


I think he was talking about your assertion that the Nazis planned to exile the Jews, but began the Holocaust because they were losing the war. He didn't think that you were some kind of neo-Nazi historical revisionist, so he suggested that you simply didn't know much about the Holocaust.

Here's a document that goes over the history of the Final Solution from Yad Vashem, The holocaust Musium :
In September 1919, Hitler penned his first political document, stating that the Jewish question would eventually be solved by the removal of the Jews from Europe altogether. According to Hitler, this removal would not be carried out in an emotional fashion, with pogroms and the like, but rather executed with typical German thoroughness and efficient planning. For Hitler, the Jewish question was the essential question for all Nazis. In fact, Hitler was obsessed with Jews and was determined to find a "final solution" for getting rid of them. However, his early writings and statements cannot be viewed as a blueprint for the murders put into effect so many years later.

Throughout the 1930s, Hitler believed that mass emigration was the answer to the Jewish problem. The anti-Jewish legislation passed in Germany from the time Hitler rose to national power in January 1933 to the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 was designed to convince and later coerce the Jews to leave the country. In January 1939 Hitler spoke before the German parliament. He criticized the free world for not taking in Jewish immigrants and warned that the consequences of war would include the "annihilation" of European Jewry. Experts debate whether that statement should be interpreted as a direct articulation of Hitler's intention to murder the Jews, or whether it was just Hitler's manipulative way of leaning on the free world to take in Jewish immigrants.

In 1939, after the German invasion of Poland, an additional 1.8 million Jews came under German control. Hitler did not immediately order their extermination. Instead, a plan was formulated whereby all Jews living within the Reich were to be exiled to a reservation in the Lublin district of the Generalgouvernement. The Nazis attempted to implement this Nisko and Lublin Plan, however it never came to fruition. By the spring of 1940, it was clear that the Lublin program was no longer the answer to the Jewish question, as Poland did not have enough territory to spare for the Jews.

The next phase in anti-Jewish policy, introduced in May 1940, was the Madagascar Plan—a plan to deport all of Europe's Jews to the island of Madagascar, a French colony in Africa. However, the Germans were defeated in the Battle of Britain just a few months later, rendering the Madagascar idea unfeasible.

The Germans attacked their former ally, the Soviet Union, in June 1941. Mobile killing units called Einsatzgruppen, along with regular army, police units and local collaborators immediately began the systematic murder of the Jews in the Soviet Union. This was the first time that mass systematic extermination was implemented as a method of solving the Jewish question.
I'm not trying to say that the Nazis were at all squeamish or that they were forced to do it or anything like that, only that had originally intended to 'ethnically cleanse' Europe, and the Final Solution only started it became impossible for them to do that, because they were starting to lose the war.
posted by delmoi at 4:27 AM on March 25, 2010


I am sorry that you are uncomfortable at the idea of evicting unlawful settlers who are a tool for the continued ethnic cleansing of the region. It must be so horrible for you. I suppose you can look at the bright side and keep a smile on your face when Palestinians are illegally evicted from their lands and their homes are demolished.

Fuck you, you glib asshole. My comment was about the domestic Israeli impossibility of evicting the settlers, not about whether or not they have the right to be there. The fact that they're thieves and should be evicted from what they have stolen is so obvious that I don't even consider it up for discussion.

If it was up to me I'd evict the lot, discomfort or not.

Don't think that I'm not aware of the circumstances in the refugee camps in the West Bank or in Lebanon, or of the pogroms that the Israelis have been responsible for there.
All I'm saying is that if the idea of mass evictions make even me uncomfortable despite knowing that it is the only just course of action then how will others who don't care about Palestine feel?

Look, "Justice" requires a full retreat to the 1967 borders, removal of all the settlements, the right of return for all the Palestinians who left in 1948, war-crimes prosecutions for hundreds of IDF officers, and full and equal rights for non-Jews in Israel.
Justice is not ever going to happen. A retreat to the border and removal of those settlements furthest from it is the most that the Israelis will ever be compelled to do. That is not right, but it is true.

Every settlement makes it just that much harder for that to happen.

The fact that we need to consider domestic Israeli opinion and - in some ways even more importantly - American opinion is something that I find personally distasteful. It is unfair, they are in the wrong and should remove the settlements - let them deal with the political fallout.
But unfair or not, there will not be a tangible result unless the Israeli public can be made to accept it.
posted by atrazine at 4:51 AM on March 25, 2010


Actually, I want to retract the "fuck you, glib asshole" bit. I think we're essentially on the same side. I over-reacted to the bit about smiling while Palestinians were thrown out of their homes, that is a very strong allegation to make.
posted by atrazine at 4:54 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not trying to say that the Nazis were at all squeamish or that they were forced to do it or anything like that, only that had originally intended to 'ethnically cleanse' Europe, and the Final Solution only started it became impossible for them to do that, because they were starting to lose the war.

This is well off-topic, but the fact is that the resettlement of Jews was only a hypothetical - no logistics planning was done. In fact as Germany and its allies conquered territory they started killing Jews. And the Battle of Britain may now be seen as a turning point, but at the time it was merely an interruption to the German advance. France had fallen (June 1940), other European countries were scrambling to join the Axis, and Germany was advancing through Russia. The USA had not yet entered the war and Britain was unable to take the war to the enemy except in the most far-flung places - Africa and so forth. Germany was clearly winning the war at this point, but Hitler wasn't devoting time to resettling Jews: he was about to order the construction of the first death camps.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:34 AM on March 25, 2010


The Nazis massacred enough Jews in Lithuania, Poland, and elsewhere, etc., et fucking caetera, while they were winning the war that it hardly matters when, for instance, the actual implementation of the Final Solution policy following the Wannsee Conference (Jan 1942) took place. Pretending the Nazis just couldn't spare the resources to move the Jews to Madagascar because they had declared war and it didn't go so well is moronic. That would be the whole "read a book" thing.

Is that clear enough?
posted by Wolof at 6:13 AM on March 25, 2010


Look, "Justice" requires a full retreat to the 1967 borders [...]

The current borders are 43 years old and, like it or not, are the ones around which hundreds of thousands of people have arranged their lives. The 1967 borders lasted for no more than 19 years and never represented anything other than the ceasefire line between Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian forces. Nobody thought they would be permanent; none of the parties argued that they ought to be permanent; none of the parties (including the Palestinians) have ever accepted them.

The 1967 borders have a whole lot of problems that you're probably not interested in, but here's one addressed to "justice". Before 1948 there were Jewish communities in and around Jerusalem, including what is now called East Jerusalem. These were settled areas, legitimately purchased or government granted, inhabited for decades. When King Abdullah's forces invaded he marched the Jews out at gunpoint and they weren't able to return for nineteen years. I can't see why this act of ethnic cleansing ought to be recognised. Why would you think that justice would demand it?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:19 AM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The current borders are 43 years old and, like it or not, are the ones around which hundreds of thousands of people have arranged their lives.

That was precisely the point of my comment. I know that most of those people aren't going anywhere. That's a very good reason not to expand any more settlements deep within the West Bank. Many of those settlements are built on land from which Palestinians were evicted for the sole purpose of building there. The fact that the settlers have been there a long time does not make that OK.

You don't think that the expulsion of Jews in 1948 should be be rewarded? Great, what about the expulsion of Palestinians during that same war? That line of argument leads to the position that the state of Israel is itself illegitimate, which I rather doubt you're trying to advocate.

I am aware that the 1967 borders are hardly ideal, and that they don't represent any kind of platonic ideal of justice, but there has to be a two state solution and the border has to be somewhere. If the Israelis had stopped building settlements decades ago and were now arguing that they wanted the existing settlements inside their borders that would be one thing.
What is actually the case is that the Israeli government claims to want peace while continuing to add to the settlements deep within the West Bank. There cannot be a two state solution if there is no land for a Palestinian state.
posted by atrazine at 6:51 AM on March 25, 2010


There cannot be a two state solution if there is no land for a Palestinian state.

It strikes me that the continued building of settlements is, de-facto, an acknowledgment that the Two-State solution is fundamentally a dead issue. The refusal to clearly demarcate a rational, defensible border with what is essentially a hostile population can only indicate that the endgame of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be accomplished one of two ways:

1. A final, complete expulsion of the Palestinian population from the West Bank and Gaza, with the intent of creating a ethnically homogeneous Greater Israel, which preserves the identity of Israel as a Jewish state, probably at the expense of Western (particularly European) support and legitimacy.

2. A gradual assimilation of the Palestinian population into Israel, with full rights of citizenship and proportional political representation. Of course, this will mean the end of Israel as a Jewish State, but will preserve the ideal of democracy and hopefully lead down the path of multi-ethnic, multi-religious tolerance.
posted by Chrischris at 8:03 AM on March 25, 2010


Option one seems to be what they want. They just need an excuse to move to the mass expulsions endgame.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:03 PM on March 25, 2010


How about them tunnel economies then?
posted by msbutah at 9:22 PM on March 25, 2010


Pretending the Nazis just couldn't spare the resources to move the Jews to Madagascar because they had declared war and it didn't go so well is moronic. That would be the whole "read a book" thing.
How is it moronic if it's true? I didn't say they weren’t running around murdering jewish people in a disorderly fashion or anything like that, but clearly exile had been the clearly stated original plan, which they couldn't do because the war was going badly. Those are the facts, regardless of how "moronic" you feel they are. Perhaps you should try reading a book yourself. Because, you know, apparently reading any book makes you more knowledgeable about all topics!
posted by delmoi at 9:54 AM on March 26, 2010


Hmm, well actually what I wrote is probably a little strong. I'm certainly not saying that things were terrible before the Final Solution was started, but that is when the killing really reached it's peak. We obviously don't know exactly what the Nazis really planned to do, but it does look like they had intended to exile the Jews for the most part, and only began systematic killing when that became impossible.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 AM on March 26, 2010


Delmoi, I know I'm not the only one who's starting to wonder about you. None the less, I've gone to some trouble to locate a relevant excerpt (page one, page two of Adolf Eichmann's trial at the invaluable Nizkor Project.

Eichmann's position was that the term "Final Solution" which appeared in his correspondence originally meant the Madagascar Plan, and only subsequently came to mean extermination. This was, in my opinion, demolished by the prosecution. First, Eichmann admitted that the Madagascar Plan must have been rejected by the time Jews were being "shipped East":
Attorney General: I would refer to the meeting in Prague on 10 October 1941, in which mention was made of deporting these fifty thousand, with the participation of the Accused. [...]
Accused: Yes, and I have already said that once these
transports started rolling, the "Final Solution" could
obviously no longer mean Madagascar.
This sufficiently refutes your claim that military losses led the Germans to change their minds about Madagascar: on the tenth of October the Germans were on the outskirts of Moscow and Stalin had order the Communist Party to evacuate the capital. There was probably no point at which Hitler seemed more victorious. But there's more.

First, Eichmann admitted that practical plans for implementing the Madagascar Plan had never reached ministerial level:
Q. [...] I want to know what practical steps were taken to
promote the Madagascar idea according to Dannecker's plan.

A. [T]he entire Madagascar Plan got bogged down by red tape,
so that when finally the whole thing was ready for
submission at ministerial level, it had been overtaken by
developments. But I was not responsible for the fact that
it was out of date - it was the people at the top who were
responsible.

Presiding Judge: So the answer is that nothing practical was
done to implement the plan. Is that correct?
[...]
Accused: Yes, Your Honour.
Second, Eichmann was confronted with a letter from 20 May 1941 banning Jewish emigration from France and Belgium "given the Final Solution of the Jewish Question which will undoubtedly come about". The letter was dated 20 May 1941. To put this into context, Hitler was at least nominally an ally of Stalin at this point. He wasn't facing a second front. None the less, his subordinates were being guided by plans for a "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" that involved banning the emigration of Jews from France and Belgium despite the fact that the whole point of the Madagascar Plan had been to remove them from Europe.

I think Eichmann's position was thoroughly refuted. If yours is similar, you only have yourself to blame.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:52 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm late to this discussion.

Delmoi, I know I'm not the only one who's starting to wonder about you.

Wonder about him... how, exactly?

Your implication here -- that he's some sort of Nazi sympathizer -- is distasteful.
posted by zarq at 10:35 AM on March 29, 2010


I'm sure that delmoi is no Nazi, and I'm sure that Joe is not implying that. That being said, delmoi, you have to be aware that you are making an argument that often is made by Nazi sympathisers, that doesn't make you one, obviously, but it does call for a certain amount of care.
posted by atrazine at 3:21 AM on March 30, 2010


Wonder about him... how, exactly?

Why he should choose to make ahistorical assertions that mitigate the Nazis' guilt. Not just once, but over and over.

Delmoi described the Nazis' original plan as "just to exile all the Jews", when in fact it was to make Jewish existence in Germany (and then Poland, and then the rest of Europe) impossible. He supported his assertion that "the holocaust didn't actually start until Germany started losing the war" by referring to a source that doesn't say that: instead it says that a specific plan to round up the Jews and send them to Madagascar was shelved when the Germans lost the Battle of Britain. Germany was still winning the war at that point, and it would not suffer a major military reverse for another twelve months. Every error he makes tends to show the Nazis as less-than-evil, reactionary, not committed to the annihilation of the Jews.

I'm quite prepared to believe that it's historical ignorance on his part, combined with a self-serving and superficial reading of his sources - but someone who doesn't actually care about the subject shouldn't be so awfully dogmatic about it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:33 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


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