Is there any suprise
March 2, 2002 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Is there any suprise about todays attack in Jerusalem after yesterdays assault on the refugee camps which appear to have been particularly brutal. I'm suprised there has not been a post about this weekends suprisingly swift and depressing tit-for-tat.
posted by specialk420 (36 comments total)
Because your tit is somebody else's tat for an earlier tit, in a cycle that's been going on for decades?
posted by aaron at 5:02 PM on March 2, 2002

This is such a tremendously complicated conflict--but I agree that the last 17 months have been a particularly disheartening descent into the vengeful, frustrated cycle of violence.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 5:20 PM on March 2, 2002

I don't think I buy into the idea that because you did X, you are responsible for my Y. Each side has reasons for its actions and they certainly are not accountable to me. And I'd tend to think as much for most of MF.
posted by greyscale at 6:14 PM on March 2, 2002

Today's hearings on US Policy in Iraq make me wonder how much more of this kind of news I'll feel obligated to wade through myself, individually. The stage is set for a really ugly war. The details of the minor events that will make it finally come to pass are, alas, beyond my control, and quite possibly irrelevant. Unless you're in journalism, the military, or government, there comes a point where you just stock up on canned goods and go get a life.

Although I still hope humanity is lucky enough to survive to see the day where some degree of peace and non-violence comes to the Middle East, today is one of those days when I feel like it's not possible.
posted by sheauga at 6:20 PM on March 2, 2002

Today's hearings on US Policy in Iraq make me wonder how much more of this kind of news I'll feel obligated to wade through myself, individually. The stage is set for a really ugly war. The details of the minor events that will make it finally come to pass are, alas, beyond my control, and quite possibly irrelevant. Unless you're in journalism, the military, or government, there comes a point where you just stock up on canned goods and go get a life.

Although I still hope humanity is lucky enough to survive to see the day where some degree of peace and non-violence comes to the Middle East, today is one of those days when I feel like it's not possible.
posted by sheauga at 6:20 PM on March 2, 2002

there will be no peace in the middle east. After the conflicts there wipe out all life on earth, if there are two or more microorganisms still alive there, they will fight, in the name of God most likely.
posted by fuq at 6:34 PM on March 2, 2002

Thre was, some folks believed, a ray of hope with the Saudi proposal that the pecace talks might begin again.
But Syria has already announced it opposes the plan. The plan calls for Arabs states in the region to recognize the existence of Israel in return for land and a state for Palestine. But the details were lacking and I assume that if some 1/3 of Arab states don't agree to the plan it is dead.
posted by Postroad at 7:06 PM on March 2, 2002

sheauga -

nice post. my sentiments, concerns exactly. where/when will todays mid-east conflicts mandela/gandhi emerge? and why is thought of peaceful/thoughtful leadership from the United States government a sad joke.???
posted by specialk420 at 7:18 PM on March 2, 2002

Of course, the Israeli government is a parlimentary system. Sharon's political survival depends on the pleasing of the ultra-right wing -- people who would rather keep up the status quo than give up territory to the palestinians.

It's all very sad, really. During the clinton administration, it looked like they were remarkably close to peace... now we're so far from that. (Note -- I'm not blaming bush here, it's just remarkable how far they have all sunk, on both sides.)
posted by ph00dz at 7:38 PM on March 2, 2002

In Cleveland, we had a front page headline this week with something to the effect of "Arafat on PEACE: WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY!"

Unfortunately anything he says is considered irrelevant.

We're stuck with brilliant journalists on Washington Week in Review, even Tom Gjelten and Gwen Eiffel! (sp.?) shaking their heads and telling us that they can't for the life of them figure out why the US is building all these military airbases in Central Asia that are obviously way too big for what's going on in Afghanistan.

uh, DUHHH!

It's interesting how the Israeli and US Governments, Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and the cluster bomb manufacturers are all so goddamn convinced that they can continue to insult our intelligence indefinitely without anyone catching on.

We can't have peace because you people are being such goddamn jerks about it. It is infuriating. I know that dear Thich Nhat Hanh doesn't think we're supposed to get angry even if the diplomats are too busy arguing over the shape of the table to stop carpet bombing.

I am not a saint. I think we are going to find that refusals to co-operate in good faith with inspection on biological and nuclear weapons provoke a crisis of confidence that turns into nuclear war.

Will the girl suicide bombers ever stop taking orders from a bunch of male shitheads and do like the nuns in Viet Nam instead?

I wish that deep breathing meditation and prayer would solve this, but alas, that dear Pope prays for peace every day in the Middle East and nobody cares.

Now I will remind myself of what Mr. Arafat said, that where there's a will there's a way, and make some calm and soothing suggestions that peace negotiations would be a really good idea.

Peace- where there's a will there's a way. It's worth repeating.
posted by sheauga at 7:51 PM on March 2, 2002

The Palestinians deserve complete and total defeat in the war, if only for the pure degeneracy their tactics demonstrated: Israel sends in uniformed military into camps to pursue identified armed suspects. Palestinians respond by sending in an attacker disguised as a civilian to intentionally kill unarmed civilians. They are simply unfit to press any claim, whatever, in this matter.
posted by MattD at 8:22 PM on March 2, 2002

Nonsense, MattD.

The Israel attacked refugees because they might possibly be terrorists, or someone they know might be a terrorist. Shooting randomly at civilians is terrorism whether you're in uniform or not (it's probably more terrifying if a tank lines you up).

The Israelis won't accept Palestine's claim to a state. What makes you think they would accept their claim to a standing army? It's ridiculous to suggest that they even have the chance to form such a force.

Of course, the best way to resolve any conflict is to simply say "You are simply unfit to press any claim, whatever, in this matter." And then bomb them.

Let's try to remain a little open minded, 'kay?
posted by robcorr at 9:17 PM on March 2, 2002

Let me swim against the prevailing current here and suggest that the current spasm of violence is in fact A Good Thing™. First, it can be directly attributed to the breakdown of the peace process, so the uglier it gets, the better the peace process looks by comparison. Second, it replaces blind idealism with weary realism among the participants; this is good because their ideals are essentially incompatible, while their realities are closely interwoven. Finally, it is good because the peace process itself had become dysfunctional, with the negotiators rushing ahead to make further agreements even while the earlier ones were being subverted and ignored. Hopefully, any restarted peace talks will start with closing the gap between words and actions left over from the previous accords.
posted by boaz at 9:20 PM on March 2, 2002

This is just nauseating. I'm sick of it, and if I'm sick of it, how much moreso should those in the area be sick of it ?

'Bout the only point I have is that Israel is occupying Palestine. They should get out. It's an illegal occupation.
posted by Mondo at 10:21 PM on March 2, 2002

I have to go back to what MattD said. Early news reports said that the even the Palestinian Authority didn't dare to enter those refugee camps. The Palestinians in the camps seem to have had the option of not resisting; the Israelis were not offered that choice.

Seriously: even among those who consider the Palestinian reaction as a legitimate response to the Israeli action, who would hold the Palestinians to the same standard regarding collateral damage that they hold, say, the Americans in Afghanistan? Who would say even that the Palestinians are trying as hard as the Americans -- results notwithstanding -- to avoid them?

It seems to me that the most "balanced" thing we can say is, We have no idea who's right in the Middle East. But on the basis of what I've heard, this most recent Israeli "tit" is less wrong than this most recent Palestinian "tat". Period.
posted by coelecanth at 10:39 PM on March 2, 2002

Wrong or right, the Israelis are killing like 10 times the number Arabs, as they are killing of them.

I think the biggest problem with attacking "the Palestinians" is that they are not a cohesive group. There are different groups acting with different agendas and different modus opperandi. Some groups, such as the HAMMAS do only target military targets with suicide bombers. Others, and just individuals are attacking civilians. And lets not forget that Civilian Palestinians are dying and being injured.

Israel, on the other hand, is an organized and cohesive actor. Nothing, I would assume, goes down without the consent of Sharon. And the worst thing is that they seem to have no problem making the same delineation into "Israeli" and "Arab", and punishing all Palestinians for the actions some elements in their society.

I wouldn't hold the whole of Israel responsible of some militia type organization attacked Palestinians, and I don't believe it's reasonable for Israel to hold all Palestinian people responsible for the actions of a few.
posted by delmoi at 11:10 PM on March 2, 2002

delmoi, your assumption isn't quite true. Individual commanders have quite reasonable latitude, and while the army does respect the authority of the Prime Minister, army leaders are capable of following their own policy and only reluctantly complying with political direction. So while they are more "cohesive", they're not as unified as you might think.

Sharon is holding together a shaky coalition in which he is not even the most hardline member. He has bugger-all room to move if he wants to stay in charge. (Not forgetting that he set the current unrest off in the first place, and got elected as the man who could sort it all out - he's a master at creating and then profiting from conflict...)

You can read Ha'aretz (the more leftwing Israeli daily) and see any number of opinion pieces decrying the stupidity of collective punishment. As I've said in other Israel/Palestinian threads, Israeli public opinion is not monlithic.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:51 AM on March 3, 2002

Israel practices the demolishing of homes, the shooting of unarmed children, the confiscation of land, the adminstrative detentions of any Palestinian accused of any crime (6 months inprisonment without charges or trial, and then infinite amounts of more time based on a judge's decision), the chopping down and uprooting of olive trees which have provided livlihoods for multiple centuries, the building of illegal garrisons stocked with ultra-religious fanatics who believe the Messiah is coming to Judea and Samaria, kill Palestinians regularly for the slightest offense, including children, and rarely serve time in prison, slaughter 40 Palestinians in a mosque, and then create shrines to the murderer and hold festivals at his grave, fire rockets and tank shells into densely populated areas, fire on cars carrying people to the hospital, set up checkpoints between contiguous Palestinian areas that hold pregnant women in ambulances and old men waiting for dialysis, cut off water and power when it suits them, destroys water wells, assassinate leaders, writers, intellectuals, poets, armed resistance fighters, fires gas inside homes, fire upon unarmed demonstrators, humiliate old men and young men in front of their families, allows them to be beaten by fanatic settlers, incarcerates them at incredible rates, and other things I can't think of right now.

On the other hand, Palestinians denotate human bombs in crowded metropolitan areas, as well as engage in shooting attacks on civilians and soldiers, including children, pregnant women, and old men, fire home-made mortors on settlements, which have not killed anyone yet but are threatening to do so, and probably some other things I'm not thinking of right now.

The other factor is that Palestinians are on their own land, and Israel is an occupying army. An attack in pre-67 Israel is rare, because Israel's security is amazing. But holding on to Palestine is a ludicrous endeavor that brings Israel no tangible benefits-- only nightmares. The level of baroque cruelty needed in order to maintain control over 2m frustrated people who have already lost 78% of what they lived on 60 years ago has corrupted the Israeli character almost as much as the trauma of losing land and then being forced to live under military (or corrupt local) rule has done to the Palestinians. It's a sad situation but one that can have only one positive conclusion: justice for all people living in Israel/Palestine. Full rights for every person, including the right of self-determination.
posted by chaz at 1:25 AM on March 3, 2002

Full rights for every person, including the right of self-determination.

Hear, hear.
posted by robcorr at 4:58 AM on March 3, 2002

"...and I feel fine..."
posted by yonderboy at 5:05 AM on March 3, 2002

Ain't no one rooting for the Tamil Rebels in their freedom struggle. I wonder why?
posted by BentPenguin at 6:29 AM on March 3, 2002

That's a good list, chaz, but I think you forgot that time an Israeli driver snuck into a parking space ahead of a Palestinian.

An attack in pre-67 Israel is rare, because Israel's security is amazing

This is not true. Israel was quite often the target of mortar attacks from these territories when they were occupied by Jordan and Egypt. I don't think it'll count as peace if the Palestinians just switch from suicide bombers to mortars and rockets.

Full rights for every person, including the right of self-determination.

The Israelis already offered Arafat that, but he decided he'd rather lead 3m frustrated people in attacks on Israelis. Best of luck to him.
posted by boaz at 6:45 AM on March 3, 2002

I don't think any of the things listed by chaz were comparable to "an Israeli driver snuck into a parking space ahead of a Palestinian." It's offensive that such a comparison would be made. If you doubt the credibility of those claims fine, refute them, as you did some other of his points. If they are true however, i don't think they should be so easily overlooked.
posted by rhyax at 7:42 AM on March 3, 2002

I was objecting to the level of bathos where on one side every single gripe was gone over in loving detail with a mini-biography while on the other, it's boiled down to suicide bombers, gun attacks, mortar attacks and then admitting that he doesn't bother to keep up with that sides' injustices.

His claims in that first section are all true minus a few nits. For example, that deranged settler shot 30, not 40, Palestinians and it was in the Tomb of the Patriarchs not a mosque, and a few of his other specific claims are unsubstantiated rumors. But that's not the point, the point is that he thinks that the fact that a couple of other nutjobs built shrines to him is part of a grand plan of oppression. Seriously, 1500 people partied in the street in a refugee camp after the latest suicide bombing; do you suppose that's oppressive?

The sad fact is that the Israelis and the Palestinians are at war, and the one thing you can guarantee about a war is that a lot of ugly stuff is gonna happen. But if you're going to have a peace process, the important question becomes 'how are you going to act during the peace?', not 'how did you act during the war?' And frankly, the Palestinian position seems to be some sort of Orwellian Violent Peace, where their leaders order these attacks with one pen and condemn it with another.
posted by boaz at 8:46 AM on March 3, 2002

Oh Yay, another thread about an impossible political/religious dilemma with obvious sides squaring off using mostly propagandistic (a word?) rhetoric and precious little new perspective. Why don't we just discuss the chicken and the egg some more?

The Palestinians and Isrealis (not to mention the people of a few other middle east states) have long exhausted any claims they might have to legitimacy. If one ever prevails over the other it will be by force and then remain only by force, probably imposed from without by some major power like the US. When the US stops needing oil the region will disappear into an oblivion of squabbling religious and political factions (that is, after the arab nations unite to kick out the jews first).
posted by plaino at 9:30 AM on March 3, 2002

sheauga is blaming this on men.

Surely that's a new low.
posted by dhartung at 11:27 AM on March 3, 2002

One side is under military occupation, the other is not. One side is fighting for their freedom, the other is not. One side has, in every family, a death from soldiers or settlers, an arrest and inprisonment without trial, torture and interrogation, or a life-changing injury. One side is free for the most part to live their life in their country, the other is under curfew, lockdown, constant bombardmant, legalized torture (Israel's famed 'moderate physical pressure,' which has killed at least 15 men in interrogation), beatings by soldiers, settler attacks, and more.

Nothing I wrote about above, or in this post, is a rumor or unsubstantiated. It is simply that Israel, in order to maintain control over millions of hostile residents, has had to resort to a level of systematic oppression not seen since apartheid South Africa. It is these events that have people refusing to serve in the Israeli army because they have been there and understand how morally wrong occupation is. No, I don't think that fanatics in the west bank who celebrate Goldstein's slaughter are part of some grand plan-- most Israelis I know hate those people and are apalled by them. But then again they aren't really doing anything to stop it, or to stop the numerous other crimes committed daily by settlers or the soldiers who guard them. There is systematic oppression and events of unimaginable cruelty which happen every day, and most Israelis don't want to know about it, or chalk it up to wartime problems, or the fact that Palestinians 'are animals.' This same kind of thinking was common to South Africa and Nazi Germany.

These events have not just happened 'during the war,' but have been happening daily since before the first intifada. Staying in the territories is utter madness, protecting illegal settlements stocked with religious nutjobs with no real strategic value. It's insane, and history (including, and perhaps especially, Israel's own historians) will judge Israel's actions there very harshly.
posted by chaz at 12:55 PM on March 3, 2002

One side has, in every family, a death from soldiers or settlers, an arrest and inprisonment without trial, torture and interrogation, or a life-changing injury.

Maybe this is the claim you should start by substantiating, chaz. I'm calling shenanigens on your hyperbole and distortions right here.

As for whether they're fighting for freedom, consider that Israel has already offered that. If there's a war still, then they're fighting for 9% of the West Bank and to try to force Israel to let millions of those hostile residents into Israel, a sort of reverse colonization. This ain't 'Braveheart', chaz.
posted by boaz at 1:31 PM on March 3, 2002

Boaz...come on, get it right. Israel offered nothing but bantustans and an unviable simulacrum of a state. If Israel withdrew from the Occupied Territories and began dismantling the settlements, there would be peace tomorrow. But this won't happen under Sharon, because he is not interested in peace. If he were, he would have resumed talks with the Palestinians during the period of "relative calm" that lasted three weeks in December and January, during which only 1 Israeli was killed (though more than two dozen Palestinians were). As for the return of refugees issue, that is a negotiating item far down on most people's list; of primary concern is the Occupation, then settlements, and the status of Jerusalem.

But come on, enough with the much-tossed-about claim that Israel has made so many gracious offers. Anyone who does their homework knows better than to make such baseless claims.
posted by mapalm at 3:59 PM on March 3, 2002

Maybe this is the claim you should start by substantiating, chaz. I'm calling shenanigens on your hyperbole and distortions right here.

OK, let's look at it purely by the numbers:

There are 2.9m Palestinians. Of those, let's assume that 50% are men. So there are 1.45m men in the West Bank and Gaza.

Of those, during the first intifada alone, 14,000 were ordered held in prison without charge or trial for a minimum of 6 months. (link to Bt'selem, Israeli human rights group). So about 1% of the male population was ordered held in administrative detention, which is the Israeli euphamism for being held without charge or trial, during the 4 years of the first intifada alone. This does not count the thousands of regular arrests and trials. However, presumably the regular arrests actually have evidence, whereas administrative detention can come from throwing a stone, or distributing pamphlets from outlawed groups.

In roughly that same time period, plus the current intifada, more than 2,200 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (source)

In the current intifada, there have been over 18,000 total injuries. (source). Numbers were similar during the first intifada, especially during the "broken bones" campaign.

23 people have died after being denied medical treatment by Israeli checkpoints. (source)

On average Israel tortures 850 people per year, (source) numbers that have surely increased with the increase of hostilities. Torture is, of course, legal under Israeli law under the euphamism "moderate physical pressure"

Palestinian familes tend to be quite large, so maybe that's where you thought I was hyperoblizing. If we were talking about a western family unit of 4.5 people, this could surely not be the case. But when we're talking about a large Palestinian family consisting of several uncles on each side, several sons for each uncle, etc, you can see that I was simply stating a fact: Go to the West Bank or Gaza, go to any family, ask who has been arrested, who has been tortured, who has been beaten, who has been shot, who has been killed. There is no doubt in my mind that you will indeed, find at least one in every family. That was my experience, at least, and I think the numbers bear it out.
posted by chaz at 5:10 PM on March 3, 2002

So, lets say Israel pulls out, and Palestine establishes itself as a state. How many months until Jordan and Egypt begin to complain about the occupation of their land by the illegal state of Palestine? At least Israel takes flack for repressing Palestinians. If Jordan or Egypt were to decide to occupy, I gaurentee a massive genocide of all Palestinians. Currently, the only thing unifying the Palestinians and the other Arabs is the existance of the evil known as Israel. Normalize relations, and there's no bond anymore. And then there's no Palestine.

Oh, and by the way, if America pulled out of the Middle East, Israel would withdraw from the West Bank. Right before nuking it a glowing hue of lime green.
posted by Ptrin at 5:47 PM on March 3, 2002

Actually, chaz, your numbers bear out that approximately 2% of all Palestinians have been the victim of one of these actions even assuming that there was absolutely no overlap (i.e. that no one was the victim of 2 of these actions). So what your numbers really prove is that an average Palestinian family has to number 50 people before what you claim can even possibly be true, which is just not the case. Excluding females makes no difference since you'd have to halve the family sizes even while you're doubling your percentages; the average Palestinian family doesn't number 25 males either. Sorry chaz, all this shows is that your bombastic claim simply doesn't hold up even if every action you listed happened to a different person from a different family. Which is of itself a pretty doubtful proposition.
posted by boaz at 6:13 PM on March 3, 2002

Boaz, I did mean 'family' in the numbers of which you speak. Digging around it looks like the average single family in Palestine is about 6-7 people, higher in Gaza. A Palestinian family unit may include 4 of these smaller units living under one roof. An average Palestinian 'family' easily numbers 50.

It all depends on what your definition of 'family' is. But even if you are going by strict Western family definitions, we're talking about an incredible amount of oppression that is entirely needless and self-supporting. And don't forget that these are 'official' numbers. It doesn't include Palestinians beaten in the streets or in shops by soldiers, it doesn't include settler attacks that went unreported, it doesn't include humiliation at checkpoints, on and on and on.

The sheer amount of arrest, torture, beatings, is mind-boggling. Just the reported cases would be the equivalent of 5.2 million Americans. And for what? Virtually every Israeli I know wants to pull out of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. And yet the minority of fanatics run the show, giving rise to the 'need' for such detailed methods of opppression. It's one of those bizarre Orwellian situations that (I hope) is destined to crumble under its own madness.
posted by chaz at 7:14 PM on March 3, 2002

chaz, 6-7 * 4 still doesn't equal 50; Why are you continuing with this charade? Even if we use your definition of family, you're still not correct. I gotta love your gift for conjecture though; once you run out of steam on facts, you just assume there's enough going on behind the scenes to justify your prejudices.

Further, I'll compare Israel to America any day. Americans were responsible (through murder, food source destruction and disease mostly) for the deaths of over 90% of the Plains Indians; that's the equivalent of 3 million Palestinians. Methinks your mind gets boggled rather too easily.
posted by boaz at 7:46 PM on March 3, 2002

Boaz, maybe I overstated my case. Maybe we're just talking about every other family. That's still a huge toll on any population. And I think the real charade is attempting to justify immoral practices of the 21st and 20th century by those of the 17th and 18th. Anyway, I do believe that something that needs to happen before peace will ever be achieved is that each side has to recognize the suffering of the other. It seems that few Israelis are willing to take a hard look at the hell they have put the Palestinians through, and the Palestinians are unwilling to look at what brought the Jews to Palestine in the first place, and how they have treated them since.
posted by chaz at 10:40 PM on March 3, 2002

Uh chaz, the killing took place in the 19th century and the forcing them to live in mostly wretched conditions in unviable bantustans continues to the present day. I suggest visiting a modern-day reservation in the Midwest before you so glibly dismiss their grievances as ancient history.
posted by boaz at 4:34 AM on March 4, 2002

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