A literal underground economy
January 15, 2009 5:39 AM   Subscribe

About those tunnels The media here had led me to believe that those tunnels were crude things that were used to smuggle rockets and explosives, but this photo essay from Foreign Policy, gives another take on what its been about
posted by donfactor (111 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
About that link....

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4558&page=0
posted by taumeson at 5:56 AM on January 15, 2009


This is sadly the reality of any impoverished place... the need to have black market smuggling of basic necessities goes hand in hand with using the same means to smuggle drugs, weapons, etc. It's almost as if the best way to ease the Palestinian crisis and reduce the number of people consequentially killed on all sides might be to actually help the Palestinians not live in a sub-third-world shithole. But hey, that's just crazy talk.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:58 AM on January 15, 2009 [29 favorites]


Which of these things did you feel misled about? The crudeness or the materials being smuggled?
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:06 AM on January 15, 2009


Awesome link, thanks.
Bottles of smuggled petrol wait for buyers in Rafah on June 21, when the fuel was selling for $7 per liter ($26.50 per gallon). A delivery of diesel, intended for Gaza City’s electricity plant, was stopped at the Israeli border on Nov. 13. As a result, it was lights out for two thirds of the city’s 480,000 population that evening when the plant turned off due to a fuel shortage.
Ouch.
posted by odinsdream at 6:33 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If they had to smuggle in cows and tea, they are justified in smuggling in guns. If the smuggling is that extensive, on that kind of scale, it means that Gaza is not a refugee camp, it is a prison. A gulag.

I assumed that tunnels meant crude little one-person-at-a-time little rat tunnels that were used mostly for guns and drugs. I was expecting the pedestrian equivalent of the Chunnel. And I never would have imagined they'd have to smuggle tea. Jesus, tea costs practically nothing. So here's the question. If you seal all the tunnels, how will these non-contraband products get in?

The American colonies rebelled because of taxation on their tea, not because their oppressor denied them it. The moral authority rests with the Palestinians in Gaza. Maybe the moral equation balances differently in the West Bank, but what Israel is doing in Gaza is abominable. You can't imprison people for generations and not expect them to demand their freedom. It is obvious that the strategy in Gaza is to depopulate the area entirely, either through direct killing or through seige. The fact that this strategy is intended to work over decades does not in anyway mitigate the atrocity. Hamas is what came about to stop this.

If Hamas is monstrous and brutal, it is because Israel necessitated the creation of something monstrous and brutal to oppose its own brutality. As an American, I am ashamed that we support Israel as blindly as we do.

If anyone in this thread mentions "Hamas wants to eradicate Israel" as a justification for anything, they should be ashamed of themselves for thinking the rest of us are that stupid and gullible. Take your Fox News/IDF talking points memo and shove it up your ass. Hamas has to smuggle cows into the country. The aren't in a position to eradicate the stains from their laundry, let alone a country like Israel.

If they said something like that (and by the way, they've since withdrawn the statement) it's an outrage, i.e. an expectoration of rage and frustration. It's akin to Malcolm X uttering the phrase "by any means necessary". It's NWA saying "fuck the police" and rapping about shooting cops. It's not a carefully thought out policy statement. It's something the powerless utter out of rage and frustration to make themselves feel powerful for a brief moment.

And it is certainly nowhere approaching the morally reprehensibility of this massive shitbag who calmly advocates "carpet bombing the general area from which the Kassams were launched". If the Palestinians have to bear the responsibility for the foolish utterances of their bearded make-believe wizards, then so do the Israelis.

They smuggled in rockets? Oh boo hoo. You should thank God that I wasn't born there. If my children had to be born into Gaza, if I had to watch them grow up in those conditions, if it was obvious that my people didn't have a friend in the world willing to put themselves on the line to stand up for us, I would have smuggled in an army, poison gas, ricin, anthrax, malarial mosquitoes, sharp sticks and anything else I could get my hands on. And if the roles were reversed, the Israelis would do exactly the same.

Every country on this earth that fought a revolution or civil war did so over conditions far less severe and horrible than what is going on in Gaza. It's not about the history of Israel and Palestine. It's about treating humans as humans and not as animals.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:41 AM on January 15, 2009 [139 favorites]


Single image per page = Web 0.5 x (click whores)2
posted by punkfloyd at 6:46 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


In those last few pictures, I freaked out for a second because I had a sudden mental image of being in one of those tunnels when they start pouring in the concrete.
posted by SneakyArab at 6:48 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


If anyone in this thread mentions "Hamas wants to eradicate Israel" as a justification for anything, they should be ashamed of themselves for thinking the rest of us are that stupid and gullible. Take your Fox News/IDF talking points memo and shove it up your ass. Hamas has to smuggle cows into the country.

Since you mention the cows...

Recently, livestock smuggling has climbed as Muslims prepare for Eid al-Adha, in early December, during which animals are slaughtered in commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God.


One could argue that the Gazans are being slaughtered by Israel's own commemoration of Abraham's dealings with God.

And the cows didn't even launch any rocket attacks.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:51 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Take your Fox News/IDF talking points memo and shove it up your ass.

Amen.
posted by preparat at 6:52 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Those were fantastic pictures.

In related news, Iran threatens to break Isreal's Gaza blockade (January 5, 2009). The intent is apparently to get medical supplies and other aid through.

An interesting quote from Kevin Zeese:

"If they block the supplies it will make them look more inhumane," he said, "but if they let them through it will simply highlight the need for such humanitarian supplies."

When necessary medicine are blocked, no one wins. When you shut down the one power station and cut off financial transactions and still nothing changes, maybe there is something to do beyond blockade. What is the local backing for Hamas? They were voted into power for some reason, right?

Yes, I know who else was voted into power.

Pastabagel - those aren't tunnels built by Hamas (at least, not according to the story). Hamas collects protection money on them. People of means build them, realizing their risks are worth the reward, and possibly because they want to help people. Hamas is not Palestine in the whole, but speaks pretty loudly for the population.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:55 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel - those aren't tunnels built by Hamas (at least, not according to the story). Hamas collects protection money on them.

I understand that Hamas doesn't build them. That's precisely my point. The natural evolution of the economy in Gaza necessitated the construction of an alternative commercial entry point for non-contraband items. It proves objectively that the way the UN/Israel manage Gaza's borders cannot sustain Gaza. There's no arguing the point.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:06 AM on January 15, 2009


Could someone explain why the journalists aren't storming into Gaza in an organized effort? Is it just better to whine about it?
posted by odinsdream at 7:08 AM on January 15, 2009


People of means build them, realizing their risks are worth the reward, and possibly because they want to help people.

Like when men of means dress up in Indian costumes and dump tea into the harbor?
posted by notyou at 7:08 AM on January 15, 2009


Are there any Hasbaras on MetaFilter? What a great place to spin pro-israeli sentiments.
posted by Xurando at 7:10 AM on January 15, 2009


I wish more people in the Western world were able to speak in support of humaneness with as much finely calculated rage as Pastabagel. It would be a fine counterpoint to the equivalent talents of those in support of Imperially sanctioned acquisitiveness.
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:10 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


if it was obvious that my people didn't have a friend in the world willing to put themselves on the line to stand up for us

Why is that all these Muslim countries put out press releases and give speeches but none of them seem willing to help them in ways other than further their own propaganda. Seriously, why didnt Egypt or Jordan annex these lands before 1967? Or today? It seems that Palestinians have all the friends in the world, when their suffer helps Muslim and Arab leaders rail against the great satan, but when it comes to solving the issue and taking responsibility then suddenly everyone is hands off and keeps repeating the same Bush talking points about a Palestinian state, which probably will never happen. I feel that the Palestinian state dream is just another Bush mistake. Its been a disaster. Pulling out the west bank has only led to this.

I can see these lands being part of Egypt and Jordan. How about they fight the militants after they give everyone passports and integrate their lands and economy. I mean, someone needs to take responsibility for securing that region and keeping the militants down. My cynical side tells me that they would rather have Israel fighting the militants and nutjobs than get their hands dirty. Why help these people when they make for such convenient propaganda?
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:11 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously, why didnt Egypt or Jordan annex these lands before 1967?

Uh... they did.

But when Israel took control in 1967 and wanted to negotiate their returns for peace concessions Egypt and Jordan decided to dump the Palestinians while they could.
posted by PenDevil at 7:15 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please note that the borders were controlled and open by Egypt as well as Israel but both closed them down when Hamas took power.
posted by Postroad at 7:18 AM on January 15, 2009


Wait, they were Egyptian passport holders in 1966?
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:19 AM on January 15, 2009


Not the Gazans who were never formally annexed (ruled by a Miliatary governor). Jordan did annex the West Bank and East Jerusalem though.
posted by PenDevil at 7:25 AM on January 15, 2009


A sincere question for Pastabagel and others who share his point of view: What should Israel do? I'm not arguing about the equivalence of the two positions or the proportionality of the response - I think I can guess your position on that - the fact of the matter remains that Israel is being hit with missiles regularly. Is any response at all acceptable?

Just curious. Not trying to incite...
posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:33 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


My understanding of the tunnels has definitely evolved as I get more information. The first I heard of them was when the Israelis were arguing that closing the tunnels needed to be part of the ceasefire. It seemed reasonable to want to close tunnels dedicated to smuggling weapons, but they left out the part about how the tunnels are the only way the Palestinians get any supplies at all. Does Israel admit that they have blockaded the Palestinians? Have they expressed a willingness to end the blockade if the tunnels are closed? Anything else seems unreasonable.
posted by diogenes at 7:38 AM on January 15, 2009


For starters, Israel could live up to its side of the cease-fire, namely, allow food, fuel and water to flow into the area.
posted by notsnot at 7:39 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


A sincere question for Pastabagel and others who share his point of view: What should Israel do?

oh dear god no make it stop please

Proposed: all I/P conflict discussions shall hereafter be directed to this summary in one act.
posted by Mayor West at 7:40 AM on January 15, 2009


damn dirty ape: Why is that all these Muslim countries put out press releases and give speeches but none of them seem willing to help them in ways other than further their own propaganda.

Egypt has its own problems with Hamas, which is the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization opposed to the Egyptian government. So for Egypt to go into Gaza and declare that it's theirs now would simply shift responsibility for the problem to them. Why would they want it? The attacks on Israel would continue, and the reprisals by Israel would more than likely expand to other parts of Egypt. This is the same basic logic that led them to close their borders with Gaza recently.

Wikipedia has a somewhat useful, if a bit confusing, map of who got what land when.
posted by rusty at 7:41 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mayor West: How about this summary instead... it's more official.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:49 AM on January 15, 2009


Mayor West, seems like a legitimate question, in view of pastabagel's obviously passionate post upthread. Sorry to annoy you, but it has in fact been on my mind lately, as I hear the horrific news from Gaza. I have an emotional connection to Israel (being a mostly secular Jew from the US), but it's impossible to ignore the humanitarian disaster that is Gaza. By the same token, I for one don't expect Israel to absorb missile attacks without some kind of response. So I'm genuinely curious what people who so articulately condemn Israel think they ought to do.

Seems in keeping with the spirit of the thread, sorry if you disagree.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:51 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could someone explain why the journalists aren't storming into Gaza in an organized effort? Is it just better to whine about it?

The short answer is that from what I can see, the locals and non-westerners there are doing a great job. I'm not sure what's missing.

From the photo perspective, I can tell you that the western photographers who covered lebanon two years ago did not go into Gaza this time. Either the fighting is too fierce, or there are additional risks to being a westerner in Gaza right now. I don't know which.

Fortunately the work coming out of the wire services (afp/getty, Reuters, and AP) is stellar. There are lots of photographers from those agencies there, they're filing more than once a day. Quite impressice, given the circumstances.

The IDF is releasing lots of great photos of israeli soldiers in action. (Though they're never shooting, and there are almost never Gazans in the photos.) I try to keep them out of my publication. Getty is picking those photos up and running them on their service, AP and Reuters are not, though they were likely offered to all three.

On the word side, there are a lot of joint bylines of course. English speaking locals write the story out of Gaza, and the Tel Aviv correspondent writes the rest of the story.
posted by thenormshow at 7:52 AM on January 15, 2009


Why is that all these Muslim countries put out press releases and give speeches but none of them seem willing to help them in ways other than further their own propaganda.

Egypt has its own problems with Hamas

And also if any other country were to take an active role in defending Palestine against Isreal, they would be labeled a supporter of terrorism and and enemy of Israel. Then they would end up on the US's shitlist and risk sanctions or possibly being on the business end of US aggression.

And then all hell would truly break loose.
posted by chillmost at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


A sincere question for Pastabagel and others who share his point of view: What should Israel do?

Begin acting as if the problem to be overcome is how to win over the approval of Palestinians, instead of "How many do we have to kill before the rest give up and accept their fate?"
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:57 AM on January 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Then they would end up on the US's shitlist and risk sanctions or possibly being on the business end of US aggression.

Most of whose military just happens to be located in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf at the moment. Just, y'know, by happenstance.
posted by rusty at 7:58 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


And then all hell would truly break loose.

Would it? Pakistan cant control its militants but we're not bombing downtown Islamabad in response. A responsible government would be controlling its militants and would be working with regional partners to control terror.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:00 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The short answer is that from what I can see, the locals and non-westerners there are doing a great job. I'm not sure what's missing.

Oh, I agree, but I'm specifically talking about the western journalists and their agencies that appear to absolutely love complaining about how Israel just "won't allow" them into Gaza. They complain, file lawsuits, and source their stories from non-western journalists already in the area, but there's never any talk of practical action, such as getting a large group of journalists together and having a big showdown with the Israelis at a checkpoint.
posted by odinsdream at 8:02 AM on January 15, 2009


Potomac Avenue, just to be clear - I'm not advocating for either side - I agree that both have far too much blood on their hands. I agree that no one "wins" until everyone "wins". I'm asking logistical, tactical question - what, if any, response is appropriate for Israel to make to the missiles that are fired from Gaza?

It's very easy for us to sit here and criticize one or the other side, but there are practical decisions that need to be made, and I would like to understand more about what the options are for the people who are in the unenviable position of actually having to make them.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:02 AM on January 15, 2009


"So I'm genuinely curious what people who so articulately condemn Israel think they ought to do."

How about dismantling Israel's illegal settlements in the West Bank, retreating to the '67 borders and signing a peace and non-aggression treaty, including compensation for those Palestinians prohibited from returning to the lands they were driven from? That might work. Or integration of the territories and Gaza strip into Israel proper with a unified state and equal rights for all under the law.
posted by Auden at 8:03 AM on January 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


Auden, it's just so crazy it might work.
posted by chunking express at 8:07 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]




@rusty: That's why I said possibly. If America were to attempt something so fool-hardy when their military resources are so strained, there might not be anything left to withdraw if things didn't go as planned.

@ damn dirty ape: Pakistan isn't actively coming to the defense of Israel, which is the hypothetical situation I was referring to. If the government of Jordan were to send troops into Gaza to help defend against Israel, Uncle Sam may consider that an act of war and react accordingly.

Maybe
posted by chillmost at 8:13 AM on January 15, 2009


Chris Gunness, a UNRWA spokesman, said that the building had been used to shelter hundreds of people fleeing Israel’s 20-day offensive in Gaza. He said that pallets with supplies desperately needed by Palestinians in Gaza were on fire.

"What more stark symbolism do you need?" he said. "You can’t put out white phosphorus with traditional methods such as fire extinguishers. You need sand, we don’t have sand."

posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:13 AM on January 15, 2009


If anyone in this thread mentions "Hamas wants to eradicate Israel" as a justification for anything, they should be ashamed of themselves for thinking the rest of us are that stupid and gullible. Take your Fox News/IDF talking points memo and shove it up your ass. Hamas has to smuggle cows into the country. The aren't in a position to eradicate the stains from their laundry, let alone a country like Israel.

If they said something like that (and by the way, they've since withdrawn the statement) it's an outrage, i.e. an expectoration of rage and frustration.


Show me where Hamas has withdrawn this essential component of their charter or even stated that they don't accept the charter as a valid expression of their intent. (Don't include a campaign promise. We all know what they're worth.)

Show me why I should believe your version of their propaganda over what is reported by Israel. I mean Israel seems to have a lot at stake here. I imagine they are pretty confident of what Hamas' intentions are.

Show me why I shouldn't take an organization such as this seriously. I don't imagine anyone took the Vietnamese seriously and they managed to do OK for themselves. Ditto every guerrilla group, pretty much ever.

Also, it might be easier to dismiss their talk as rhetoric if they weren't backed by Saudi Arabia and they didn't have members saying all kinds of shit seeming to indicate that their intentions toward Israel and Jews in general are anything but peaceful http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas.

I understand that innocents are dying. That is unfortunate in the big picture and tragic on a personal level, but here's the thing, Hamas fires rockets into Israel. They send in suicide bombers. People get hurt or killed. There is no answer for that. No one gets to say, "Hey, it's just a few dead people. Live with it." I wouldn't accept that, you wouldn't accept that. You actually say "I would have smuggled in an army, poison gas, ricin, anthrax, malarial mosquitoes, sharp sticks and anything else I could get my hands on."

Well congratulations, now you know how Israel feels.

I understand that the Palestinians, by this logic, also then have the right to fight back. I think they should. I think Hamas is. That being the case though, it doesn't matter if they've only got rocks and mud, these two entities are at war and all the people that are trying to make this seem anything other than war are seriously mistaken.

One side might be much better armed than the other, but generally in war, that's the situation you hope to achieve. What generally happens next is the country with the inferior weapons/strategy/numbers or what-have-you gets overrun and the conquerors get to set terms. That generally includes removing threats to itself, taking what they want and generally riling up the population and building the next generation that will revolt. The Jews know this because they've been conquered seventy eleven times throughout history. Perhaps they are tired of it.

Maybe if the world got out of the way, we could get to that stage and this would all get resolved. We would just have to watch and make sure "settled down" doesn't mean all the Palestinians get eradicated.

But let's face it, that's not going to happen. The world will not simply mind its own business, so how about instead we acknowledge that maybe this might be Israel's best option. Who here really believes that if Israel just gave in to Hamas' demands, that Hamas would go away, lose power and stop campaigning against Israel? You're a fool if you do.

That is not the nature of organizations. Like all other creatures, they exist to continue to exist. If Israel acquiesced on every point, Hamas would just figure another reason to battle against them. Guaranteed. And we'd be back here again. I for one, don't blame Israel for not even wanting to try.
posted by BeReasonable at 8:14 AM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


The IDF is releasing lots of great photos of israeli soldiers in action. (Though they're never shooting, and there are almost never Gazans in the photos.) I try to keep them out of my publication.

I am sure the readers of the Toronto Star will be happy to know the employees are desperately trying to only give them one side of the story. I'll let you know what the management says about it.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:15 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


A sincere question for Pastabagel and others who share his point of view: What should Israel do? I'm not arguing about the equivalence of the two positions or the proportionality of the response - I think I can guess your position on that - the fact of the matter remains that Israel is being hit with missiles regularly.

Of course, being fired upon with rockets is horrible, but against the backdrop of wars ever few years, suicide bombings, clashes with settlers, etc. It's pretty cumulative. These aren't scud missiles here. And by the way, Israel didn't do anything when real missiles were being used totally unjustifiably against them then. But I digress.

Here are the two possible solutions.

1. Integrate - Abandon the two-state solution in favor of one state including Gaza, and the West Bank. Give palestinians full equal rights with present israelis. Same economic, political, and civil rights. No checkpoints, no walls, no internal borders. Develop Gaza the way Israels spend to develop the rest of their country. Spend billions of Israel's money, not international money, to rebuild the civilian infrastructure in Gaza. Require Palestinians to serve in the IDF. This may mean that at some point in the future Israel is no longer a "jewish state". Too bad. This doesn't mean that Israel can't have Judaism as a state religion, it just means it can't restrict other religions. No apartheid states are acceptable in 2009. But having the state of Israel be dominated by Jews is that important, then do it the old fashioned way -- get to making babies. To bootstrap the Palestinians in their integration, the U.S. can persuade the oil-exporting arab nations to pay Palestinians living in Israel a stipend, so that Palestinians don't immediate integrate into Israel as the underclass.

2. Segregate - Embrace the two state solution. That means a sovereign Palestinian state that is allowed to build a military, import arms, secure its borders, negotiate treaties, etc. It means Palestine gets to join the UN. It means Israel can't roll tanks in pre-emptively, or block commercial traffic, restrict travel, etc. There will still be violence in the short term.

Solution 2 is destined to fail, because Palestine is too small to survive on its own, and it will ultimately become beholden to a benefactor, whether that is the U.S. or Iran. The border there will always be porous, and the poverty in Palestine will always find an outlet in extremist drive violence. So solution 1 is the only real option.

There will of course, still be violence in the short term. That's the price of decades of oppression. In the long term everyone will be better off.

Also, the U.S. needs to stop enabling the IDF will billions in military aid. This conflict would not have escalated to this point on either side had the US not enabled the escalation on Israel's side. The IDF is unnaturally large given Israel's size and economy, and it that disproportional size that has given the IDF de facto control and influence over the government and media. Not every Israeli supports their government in Gaza, but their voices are quickly drowned out by the IDF propaganda machine.

No matter what you do, there will be violence. This is a consequence of the decades of oppression. It took several decades to degenerate to this point, you should assume it will take a few decades to improve.

But the violence won't always take the form of arabs against jews. Remember that Rabin was killed by an ultra-orthodox jew, not an arab. If there is any progress made towards integrating the country, you will see the extremist ends of both groups attacking their more sensible brethren. That this would happen demonstrates that the status quo is driven by the extreme factions, not the majority will of the people.

There's no point in figure out how to retaliate to these particular attacks because no matter what you do, it will be a different attack next time. You stomp Hamas there will be another group. Or worse, there will be ten other small groups without any central control running their own agenda. Deal with the real problem.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:16 AM on January 15, 2009 [34 favorites]


Begin acting as if the problem to be overcome is how to win over the approval of Palestinians, instead of "How many do we have to kill before the rest give up and accept their fate?"

The difficulty in dissuading Israel from the "kill 'em all" approach is that they've seen how well it worked for their military patrons.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:19 AM on January 15, 2009


OK, score one for civil discourse on Metafilter. Thanks, pastabagel.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:20 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


By the way, Joe Beese, seems to me that if Israel wanted to kill 'em all, they are pretty well equipped to do so. Note that they haven't.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:21 AM on January 15, 2009


As an American, I am ashamed that we support Israel as blindly as we do.

As an American of Jewish ancestry, I share your shame. Hell, as a human being, I share your shame.

It's a fucking race to the bottom. The nihilist response seems more rational every day. We could really use an alien invasion of this planet right about now. Or an environmental catastrophe of global proportions.

I'm not sure how hard I'll weep for my species when we're wiped off the face of the earth. For my own sorry ass, if I'm alive to die that way, sure. But for human beings? Screw us.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:22 AM on January 15, 2009


I don't imagine anyone took the Vietnamese seriously and they managed to do OK for themselves.

I like this comparison of the Vietnamese with the Palestinians, as it acknowledges a crucial similarity: both are/were the indigenous population struggling to free themselves from foreign oppressors, and both had/have the imperative of righteousness on their side.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:23 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that if Israel [add: or Hamas] wanted to thought it could get away with kill[add:ing] 'em all, they are pretty well equipped to do so. Note that they haven't [add: yet].

ftfy
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:24 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


(my first edit is predicated on the linkage between Hamas and a nuclear-armed Iran)
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:25 AM on January 15, 2009


This doesn't mean that Israel can't have Judaism as a state religion, it just means it can't restrict other religions.
There is no state religion in Israel. The State of Israel officially recognizes Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druze and Baha'i (who have their headquarters in Haifa).
posted by PenDevil at 8:27 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


No one gets to say, "Hey, it's just a few dead people. Live with it."
As has been pointed out before, this is essentially how the UK dealt with the IRA bombing campaigns, including on the mainland, whilst conducting vigorous police actions (including some very shady shit). The situation later improved rather than worsened.
posted by Abiezer at 8:29 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like this comparison of the Vietnamese with the Palestinians, as it acknowledges a crucial similarity: both are/were the indigenous population struggling to free themselves from foreign oppressors, and both had/have the imperative of righteousness on their side.

What about the 50% - 60% of Israeli Jews who come from Syria, Libya, Iran, Morocco and Egypt?
posted by PenDevil at 8:30 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I'm not sure how hard I'll weep for my species when we're wiped off the face of the earth. For my own sorry ass, if I'm alive to die that way, sure. But for human beings? Screw us."

No, no, no. Human beings can work this out. It's not really that hard, honestly. Come on. Look at what Europe was able to do after WWII, after the Nazis and fascism and decades of Communist occupation and and the Holocaust and all that oppression and injustice and the seas of despair and hatreds. Human beings can work this out. I reject a never-ending horizon of injustice, despair and hopelessness.
posted by Auden at 8:31 AM on January 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


That is unfortunate in the big picture and tragic on a personal level, but here's the thing, Hamas fires rockets into Israel. They send in suicide bombers. People get hurt or killed. There is no answer for that. No one gets to say, "Hey, it's just a few dead people. Live with it." I wouldn't accept that, you wouldn't accept that. You actually say "I would have smuggled in an army, poison gas, ricin, anthrax, malarial mosquitoes, sharp sticks and anything else I could get my hands on."

Well congratulations, now you know how Israel feels.


That's some spectacular doublethink right there. Your first sentence amounts to "Hey it's just a few dead people, live with it", and then you say that no one gets to say it. Then you take my statement, made in the context of a humanitarian catastrophe, hopelessness, and isolation caused by Israel and use it to justify Israeli fears of the Palestinians. In other words, "we've beat up the palestinians so much that they are starting to fight back. We should beat them up for fighting back."

You brag about Israel moving in like the conquerors and setting the terms. What arrogance. America owns Israel. Israel just got lucky that the president for the last eight years has been an alcoholic and an idiot, so they've been able to run off the reservation a bit. I suspect the reason this is happening now is because the military junta that presently runs Israel knows that the party ends shortly. Americans are tired of writing checks, and Israel is increasingly depending on the most ignorant portions of the American electorate to support this.

Yes, it's a few dead bodies. Live with it. Or die with them.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:31 AM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


There is no state religion in Israel. The State of Israel officially recognizes Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druze and Baha'i (who have their headquarters in Haifa).
posted by PenDevil at 11:27 AM on January 15


I know that it isn't currently, I'm simply suggesting there would be nothing wrong with that if they did declare it the state religion, provided they didn't oppress other religions.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:32 AM on January 15, 2009


Pastabagel: Of course, being fired upon with rockets is horrible, but against the backdrop of wars ever few years, suicide bombings, clashes with settlers, etc. It's pretty cumulative. These aren't scud missiles here. And by the way, Israel didn't do anything when real missiles were being used totally unjustifiably against them then. But I digress.

Much as I appreciate you spelling out your bigger picture view, I can't understand what the point here is. And this really gets to my question: what on a practical level is an appropriate response to getting fired on with Qassam missiles regularly by Gaza? Surely you're not suggesting - "Well, they aren't very big missiles, so just roll with it"... And yet all seem to agree that the current response is disproportionate and inhumane. So - what's the point in the middle that seems appropriate?

An impossibly difficult position to be in, if you ask me.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:36 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


How to Stop a War. James Dunnigan.

4. The Four Causes of War: Long-Standing Grievances. Internal Disorder. A Sense of Military Superiority. Fear of Being Attacked.

7. How to Negotiate: Keep your eye on the goal. Be patient. Don't underestimate protocol. Keep it confidential. Don't forget the differences between them and us. Know the other fellow's history. Watch the fine print and the press releases. Be aware of the national game. Know the meaning of words. Beware new friends. Count your change. Resist last-minute "adjustments."

14: Major Warning Signs. Who is Breaking the Rules?
There are rules a nation should follow to avoid wars.
1. Don't get into arguments.
2. Don't go to war with anyone who can defeat you.
3. It's cheaper to buy off an opponent than fight one.
4. Words are cheaper than bullets.
5. Remember that dictators speak mainly for themselves.
6. Stay out of domestic disputes.
7. Defenders win more wars than attackers.
8. A lot of little wars are preferable to a single big one.
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:38 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Human beings can work this out. I reject a never-ending horizon of injustice, despair and hopelessness

I do too, on better days. But this conflict is the Audacity of Hopelessness personified.

Seriously, I don't understand all these people who claim to believe in "God" acting like they will not be judged eventually for the truth of what they are doing. Nature will judge us, and harshly, and soon, in any case. We're a fucking pathetic species, and we had such potential. A shame.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:42 AM on January 15, 2009


I know that it isn't currently, I'm simply suggesting there would be nothing wrong with that if they did declare it the state religion, provided they didn't oppress other religions.
I'm not sure what you're getting at here. There's probably more freedom of religion in Israel than any other country in the middle east.
posted by PenDevil at 8:42 AM on January 15, 2009


Above post is purely quotation.

Thoughts on them:

All four causes of war are part of this conflict.

Obama seems very good about keeping confidences. He may not appreciate the armtwisting by Israel. Time will tell.

What is a "win" in this situation?
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:42 AM on January 15, 2009


America didn't own Israel in 1948, by the way, when Israel successfully defended itself against the invading Arab armies who refused to accept the UN General Assembly vote to recognize Israel.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:46 AM on January 15, 2009


And this really gets to my question: what on a practical level is an appropriate response to getting fired on with Qassam missiles regularly by Gaza?

The response would be to do exactly the same thing as if the missile originated from Israel proper. I'm assuming this would not involve bulldozing homes and bombing neighborhoods form the sky.

Of course, when you do this, you run into Hamas explaining why they are justified in firing the rockets. And then you have to ask if any of these grievances are valid, and address the grievance along with the investigation or military action.

I obviously don't have all the answers, but in my defense I haven't spent every hour of my professional career thinking about the problem. What I see happening here is very obviously a strategy that is going to fail. Is what Israel is doing now really going to stop future attacks? The attacks will stop until (the date that Israel withdraws from Gaza) + (number of days to dig a new tunnel). This isn't even a creative solution to the problem.

Look at the US in Iraq. We got rid of the bad guy only to discover that the bad guy was reining in half a dozen much worse guys. Now the US is worse off, the Iraq people are worse off, and the worst guys are better off.

The same thing is going to happen in Gaza. How long before the true lunatics take over do you think? As bad as the present (or recently deceased) leadership of Hamas is, there were things they probably weren't willing to do. They drew some lines somewheres. Now those lines are gone.

So now it isn't just the rockets the Israelis have to worry about. It's all the stuff that the guys who used to run Hamas thought was excessive.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:52 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


So - what's the point in the middle that seems appropriate?

200 dead? 300? I'm sure you can pick an arbitrary number that would be better than the 1000 something dead they are at now. Israel obviously needs to do something. I can't believe that the best they could come up with is blowing Gaza the fuck up.
posted by chunking express at 8:54 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


There would seem to be some answers that many people believe has to be part of a settlement between the Palestinians and Israel.
1. Hamas has to stop sending rockets into israel (but keep its charter claim to want to exterminate Israel?).
2. A passage of land needs to be given (exchanged with land given to israel) to connect Gaza and the West Bank in order that a Palestinian state have contiguous borders.
3. Removal of settlements by Israel from West Bank (as they have done in Gaza).
4. Allowing some refugees to return and compensation for those not returning (Israel can not absorb the huge numbers...ps: what of the 800 thousand Jewish refugees forced from Arab lands in 1948?)
5. Some understanding about Arab and Israeli rights (holy places etc) in Jerusalem.
This would make for a two-state solution. Those who do not want this believe that
(a) the Arabs should never have their own state (b) or that the one-state would be demographically Arab in short time and no more Israel.

The compromise, clearly, is for a two-state solution, oddly in fact what was mandated by the UN in 1948.
posted by Postroad at 8:54 AM on January 15, 2009


Know the National Game.

Matkot

Another site says this:

"It is played with two players who attempt to hit the ball back and forth as many times as humanly possible, creating a high-risk environment where beachgoers can enjoy the possibility of being hit in the head by a ball flying at Mach-2. The object of the game is somewhat unclear. While matkot advocates claim that it is a leisure sport, like frisbee, involuntary spectators have found more accurate comparisons to games such as Chinese water torture and banging your skull against the wall."
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:56 AM on January 15, 2009


If Hamas is monstrous and brutal, it is because Israel necessitated the creation of something monstrous and brutal to oppose its own brutality.

And this has achieved them... what? Goodwill from countries thousands of miles away?

Israel is a diplomatic and political problem for the Palestinians, but they've been treating it like a military one. Israel just isn't going to change at gunpoint, so the gun has to be put down.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:57 AM on January 15, 2009


A sincere question for Pastabagel and others who share his point of view: What should Israel do?

For one, they should lift the stupid blockade. All that does is impoverish the people of Gaza and strengthen Hamas. No peace will ever come while Hamas rules. They aren't interested in peace.
posted by caddis at 9:20 AM on January 15, 2009


And this really gets to my question: what on a practical level is an appropriate response to getting fired on with Qassam missiles regularly by Gaza?

This made me wonder about the Qassam missile. So I went looking, and this is what I found:

Most of these rockets are not that much different from large model rockets sold in stores in the west except they are packed with explosives. The weapons are fired randomly into Israeli areas and typically do little damage.

They are all free-flying artillery rockets lacking any guidance system. . . . Since 2001, Qassam rockets have claimed the lives of at least 28 Israelis and injured hundreds (as of 9 January 2009).

So each year, on average, these rockets kill 3.5 Israelis. And while these deaths are horrible, in 2000 alone, 461 Israelis died in car accidents.
posted by theroadahead at 9:25 AM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


As long as people are bringing up Vietnam, that thing reminds me a bit of this thing.
_________

'Couple responses, even though I know better.

1) "I am sure the readers of the Toronto Star will be happy to know the employees are desperately trying to only give them one side of the story."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe thenormshow said that he has not been running photography that the government of Israel is posting on a wire service. Instead, her refers to "[stellar] work coming out of the wire services (afp/getty, Reuters, and AP)"; my guess is that's what he's been running instead. Deciding to use material from independent agencies, which are reporting from both sides of a conflict, actually seems to be the more responsible thing to do.

2) "Getting a large group of journalists together and having a big showdown with the Israelis at a checkpoint." Not practical. In addition to either getting the journalists killed or turned away, the IDF would be fully confrontational after that, meaning greater barriers to coverage from there on in. I'm guessing that part of the problem is that in a situation like this, you'd want to send someone who has a lot of experience, is an expert on the region and conflict, and more or less speaks Arabic and Hebrew. Unfortunately, that's also the reporter you can't afford to get killed. Agencies are largely depending on local reporters, as they're already in Gaza, and have the necessary regional and language skills. According to this, Al Jazeera English has some people on the ground.

3) "[Y]ou wouldn't accept that. You actually say "I would have smuggled in an army, poison gas, ricin, anthrax, malarial mosquitoes, sharp sticks and anything else I could get my hands on. Well congratulations, now you know how Israel feels."
Thanks to a certain event that occurred under the outgoing administration, I can actually speak to this. I have seen hundreds of thousands of people who survived or witnessed a major terrorist attack take to the streets to protest blind war, as well as the use of weapons that constitute war crimes. So, you know, that can happen too.
(Related note: Can the corollary to Godwin's law, about 9/11, be named after me?)

4) In the first two minutes of an intro to IR class, you're taught the definition of "state." In the next minute, you're taught that every part of the world is within the jurisdiction of a state, with the possible exception of Antarctica. Then, for fifteen minutes, the teacher has to explain away Palestine. I know it's complicated, but it seems like an aberration that, for the past 60 years, the international community has refused to recognize Palestinian sovereignty—a step that should not, perhaps, be contingent on bilateral negotiations.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:33 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I nominate Pastabagel as Metafilter's representative to the UN.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:34 AM on January 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


And also if any other country were to take an active role in defending Palestine against Isreal, they would be labeled a supporter of terrorism and and enemy of Israel. Then they would end up on the US's shitlist and risk sanctions or possibly being on the business end of US aggression.

Right, because if Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait started physically or financially backing Palestine, the United States would totally just stop buying oil from them.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:35 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


2) "Getting a large group of journalists together and having a big showdown with the Israelis at a checkpoint." Not practical. In addition to either getting the journalists killed or turned away, the IDF would be fully confrontational after that, meaning greater barriers to coverage from there on in. I'm guessing that part of the problem is that in a situation like this, you'd want to send someone who has a lot of experience, is an expert on the region and conflict, and more or less speaks Arabic and Hebrew. Unfortunately, that's also the reporter you can't afford to get killed. Agencies are largely depending on local reporters, as they're already in Gaza, and have the necessary regional and language skills. According to this, Al Jazeera English has some people on the ground.

I should add that the Large Showdown's goal isn't to actually get into Gaza right then, but to make a spectacle of the fact that they're turned away. Make the IDF push the journalists. Make them draw weapons on them. That action would quickly lead to international reaction far beyond what "we filed a lawsuit, but haven't gotten a phone call back yet" does.
posted by odinsdream at 9:54 AM on January 15, 2009


Neat photo essay. Obviously that's a terrorist cow, terrorist tea, etc... etc...
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on January 15, 2009


As a side note: when Israel has finished demonstrating how well DIME bombs work, we can expect the Department of Defense to place a big order for them. That should stimulate the economy some.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:09 AM on January 15, 2009


What is the big thing about the media not being allowed in the war zone? After all, in Iraq we allow journalists in and then make sure they report the party line. How often do we see our dead being brought home in caskets? Nations often embed journalists to promulgate the nation's point of view, or they prohibit them...I had last Saturday on my site posted many photos of the suffering from both sides of the conflict. Mainstream media did not supply those photos.
posted by Postroad at 10:17 AM on January 15, 2009


Well, one interesting thing is that their Supreme Court ordered them to allow the journalists access. To no avail.
posted by smackfu at 10:24 AM on January 15, 2009


Joe Bleese - For extra fun, those are suspected to be carcinogenic.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, XQUZYPHYR, that's happened in the past. Specifically, when Iran nationalized their oil industry in the 1950's. The Iranians were given a shit deal by the colonial masters for their oil, and when they took the industry into their own hands the major Western powers set up a world-wide embargo on Iranian oil, which conveniently lasted until the West-friendly Shah was installed as dictator.

I think when people say 'where are the other arab countries?' they aren't thinking about the form of support that Israel gets from the West. Support from other countries would likely take the form of direct military aid. And given the propensity to Israel to bomb the shit out of anything they perceive as a threat, that military aid would probably have to take the form of long range missiles being shot into Israel, or jets dropping bombs on Israeli cities. (Since anything left in Gaza would likely be quickly destroyed.)

I really don't think that kind of military escalation is what people are really desiring whilst trying to paint all of the Arab countries as venal assholes who can't protect one of their own.

Really, it doesn't help to perpetuate the perception of this conflict as a tribal war. When we are tribes banding together with our own, and spitting on all the strangers, it is hard to build lasting peace. The conflict isn't 'Westerners vs. Arabs,' as much as some would like to paint it thus. It's Israeli leadership vs. Palestinian leadership, and whoever those two groups can drag into their problems.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:27 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Right, because if Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait started physically or financially backing Palestine, the United States would totally just stop buying oil from them.

Of course. Why should the US buy it when they can just go in and take it under the pretense of protecting Israel? It would be an extremely stupid thing to do but it didn't stop them from doing it in Iraq. See how nicely that worked out?
posted by chillmost at 10:30 AM on January 15, 2009


Nobody died from Hamas' rinky-dink rockets until after the campaign in Gaza began.

Fucking use your heads.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:43 AM on January 15, 2009


Most of these rockets are not that much different from large model rockets sold in stores in the west except they are packed with explosives. The weapons are fired randomly into Israeli areas and typically do little damage.
Most of these guns are not that much different from toy guns sold in stores in the west excepth they fire bullets. The guns are fired randomly into your suburb but do little damage.
posted by PenDevil at 10:44 AM on January 15, 2009


So each year, on average, these rockets kill 3.5 Israelis. And while these deaths are horrible, in 2000 alone, 461 Israelis died in car accidents.

9/11 Deaths including hijackers: 3,017
2001 US Traffic Deaths: 42,116
posted by chlorus at 10:49 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


odinsdream- I don't know. I honestly think it'd be pretty easy for someone to get shot, and for the IDF to say "look, they were clearly pulling a publicity stunt, in the middle of a war zone. What did they expect to happen?" Especially since the Gaza blockades, media and otherwise, have already been publicized.* Asking journalists to voluntarily enter a war zone is already a lot. Asking them to intentionally provoke heavily armed militants, in order to prove a point that's already known? I think it's too tall an order, for very little benefit. Keep in mind: Journalists are people, too. I swear. Even if some drink enough to be robots.

chlorus- Unless we declare a war on the Republic of Detroit, the terrorists are going to win!

*Genera question to the thread, out of curiosity: I think Israel is a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which outlaws the blockading or confiscation of humanitarian aid. Is there any precedent for citing the Convention, and consequently getting aid through?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:54 AM on January 15, 2009


9/11 Deaths including hijackers: 3,017
2001 US Traffic Deaths: 42,116


So you're saying the Israeli response is as dim-witted and disproportionate as the War on Terror?
posted by fullerine at 10:55 AM on January 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Huffington Post called and said you had thier inability to distinguish between ACCIDENTAL death and TERROR, and they want it back.
posted by chlorus at 11:01 AM on January 15, 2009


So you're saying the Israeli response is as dim-witted and disproportionate as the War on Terror?

If people were never actually scared, would it still be a War on Terror? Like, what if there wasn't actually any terror? It would be the War on... nothing?
posted by GuyZero at 11:31 AM on January 15, 2009


chlorus: You're doing a good job pretending to be an idiot. I mean, with the HuffPo reference, the OMFG terra schtick and all, how can you go wrong. Well played.
posted by wierdo at 11:31 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was quoting another idiot.
posted by chlorus at 11:42 AM on January 15, 2009


Wait. So does that mean we aren't invading Detroit?

I guess I'll have to find something else to do with all these pitchforks and torches, then....
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:55 AM on January 15, 2009


9/11 Deaths including hijackers: 3,017
2001 US Traffic Deaths: 42,116
posted by chlorus at 12:49 PM on January 15


I'll go you one better. 5000 people die every year from food poisoning, which means that since 2001, food has killed 40,000 american, and terrorists have killed 3,000. So of course, the rational reaction is to cut FDA food inspectors 28 percent and pour money into a war on terror. So rational a five year old child could understand it.

Someone get me a five year old child; I can't make head or tail of this.
/groucho
posted by theroadahead at 12:05 PM on January 15, 2009


. . . excepth they fire bullets.

No need to get all biblical.
posted by theroadahead at 12:08 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


5000 people die every year from food poisoning, which means that since 2001

Although that's mainly culling the weak.
posted by smackfu at 12:20 PM on January 15, 2009


The argument that not that many people died from rockets is plain silly. The rockets coming into Gaza from Iran have become increasingly more sophisticated and have a longer range...should Israel wait till .....? and then say, Enough? Can you imagine what it is like for young children and the elderly to have to run to shelters when sirens warn of incoming rockets? Would you have your child live like that and say: well they are not that bad so why not just forget about it.
posted by Postroad at 12:22 PM on January 15, 2009


Can you imagine what it is like for young children and the elderly to have to run to shelters when sirens warn of incoming rockets?

I'm sure the Palestinians can.
posted by theroadahead at 12:26 PM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bad idea though. Those shelter could be used to hide rockets, and so must be destroyed.

The rockets coming into Gaza from Iran have become increasingly more sophisticated and have a longer range...should Israel wait till .....?

Till what? Slightly less ineffectual Quassam rockets are hardly a major threat to the existence of Israel, and if you’re thinking of some big bad WMD bogeyman it sure as hell isn’t going to be delivered that way, and this sure as shit isn’t going to reduce the chances of it.
posted by Artw at 12:32 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's so interesting to me that Israel (despite their so-called military sophistication) insist on playing the counter-insurgency game si incredibly badly.

Fast jets and cluster munitions against civilian targets? Utter humilation and crushing sanctions on basic human necessities. This is almost the exact opposite of what you're trying to do in Iraq - you would have thought they would.......but, oh, hang on a second?

Could it be they know what they're doing?

Could it be that they recognise that true reconciliation with the Palestinians may well represent a much more significant existential threat to the Zionist project?

Could it be they understand well that so long as the 'ragheads'. 'sand niggers' and A-rabs' can be portrayed in the western (ok let's be fucking frank here) American press as missile lobbing crazies they are going to be seen as justified in their actions whatever they do.

Perhaps they have assessed that their best position at this point in history is to maintain the kind of pressure on the Palestinians that leaves them bitter, irrational, spitting hate and lobbing (pathetic homemade) missiles.

It's almost as if every time things start to settle down Israel decides that they have a pressing need to 'protect' themselves. Protect themselves by, well, what they're doing right now.

Anyway, IMHO the gigs up:
Despite what a previous poster thinks the vast bulk of Israeli population additions are not Arabs Jews they're East Europeans with very little committment to Isreal. looking looking merely to improve their lot in life. Do military service for Israel sure - die for it? Not really, not if they can help it.

The huge support that Israel recieves from the US is starting to show cracks. As with so many of these things there is a tipping point - it comes as a suprise and it happens sooner than you think. I give it a few more years and a couple of hundred dead children.

THe reality of these things is that you can only make a people unfree by killing them all. These days that's a bit tricky. Right now Israel hasn't even managed to kill them faster than they're reproducing - although it looks like they're trying to make up for lost time...

Finally Israel has given up trying to 'show the world the truth' and is now shit scared that truth gets out. But it will - it always gets out, even if it gets out too late.

Finally - if you're inclined to post your views about how the other arab states should be doing more for the Palestinians then well spotted. The level of hypocracy is incredible. Now, pause and ask yourself..why do you think that is? 'Cos they hate the Palestinians and enjoy seeing them crushed?

Here's a thought: A large number of 'leaders' in the Arab world are not really leaders; they are puppets of the US or are in power by virtue of their good graces and can be removed at will. They spit hate internally but do fuck all politically and try hard to tread that fine line knowing that if they do lose power the bullet, not the ballot will be the mechanism

Here's an example of what happens when you don't do what the US wants.. Remember Musharaff? Remember what the US threatened him with if he didn't cooperate in the GWOT? I think the phrase used was 'bomb you back into the stone age'

Look - if you are an american I'm afraid this is your legacy, not just Israels. Stop talking about I/P and how primitive they both are. You're in this up to your fat necks.

I'm from the middle east - I grew up there (and here). The Jews are people of the Middle East and have a right to be there and be safe and accepted (and defended, and defend themselves) but not like this.

Call me a troll if that makes you feel better - watch me give a fuck.
posted by fingerbang at 12:37 PM on January 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Both sides are right, but both sides murder.
I give up; why can't they?
-- X, "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts"
posted by kirkaracha at 12:52 PM on January 15, 2009


Juan Cole: Are Gazans Slaves?
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


God bless Juan Cole. I hope everyone reads today's posting at homunculus's link. It's heart-rending and incredibly informative.
posted by Auden at 2:31 PM on January 15, 2009




They smuggled in rockets? Oh boo hoo. You should thank God that I wasn't born there. If my children had to be born into Gaza, if I had to watch them grow up in those conditions, if it was obvious that my people didn't have a friend in the world willing to put themselves on the line to stand up for us, I would have smuggled in an army, poison gas, ricin, anthrax, malarial mosquitoes, sharp sticks and anything else I could get my hands on. And if the roles were reversed, the Israelis would do exactly the same.

I can imagine Keith Olberman reading this, in full outrage mode.
posted by mecran01 at 4:42 PM on January 15, 2009


In the Juan Cole post:
"Unlike the obsequious US press, Britain's Channel 4 is capable of challenging the propaganda that Hamas was intensively bombarding Israel with rockets during the 2008 ceasefire. The anchor was given a report by the Israeli government that showed that Hamas did not in fact send rockets on Israel in that period. Only 20 rockets were fired from Gaza between June and December of 2008, and they were fired by organizations other than Hamas. No Israelis were killed in that period by these little home made projectiles."

What broken cease-fire were we talking about?
posted by kaibutsu at 4:49 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The cease fire was broken by Hamas in December.
posted by caddis at 4:52 PM on January 15, 2009


Actually, signs point to Israel: Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen.

A four-month ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was in jeopardy today after Israeli troops killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid into the territory.

Hamas responded by firing a wave of rockets into southern Israel, although no one was injured.

posted by theroadahead at 5:15 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The cease fire was broken by Hamas in December.

LOLWUT?

Buddy, here's a tip. Israel broke this one and they did it on the day of the US presidential elections when nobody would give a flying fuck about anything else.
posted by Talez at 7:15 PM on January 15, 2009


Oops. Not to self: reload page and read preview before posting comment.
posted by Talez at 7:16 PM on January 15, 2009


[...aaand cut! did you see what i did just there? ok, for this part of the thread lets step away from our assigned roles and talk about what we might have witnessed and learned... :]

BeReasonable i think helps illustrate the 'realpolitick' of (superiorly armed) conquerors and the strategic logic of escalation and, moreover, that nations w/ nuclear weapons can go after non-nuclear nations perps w/ impunity and, furthermore, nations that acquire nukes not only do not face censure and ostracism, but receive aid, cf. india and pakistan (the other I/P) -- gee, what's the lesson here i wonder for aspiring global powers wrt NPT... strike now or forever hold your piece!

'morality' and human rights don't appear to seriously enter into the equation -- except as 'propaganda' in an infowar to sway world sympathy and any attendant resulting resources that may be forthcoming -- in what seems to me essentially a glorified 60 year-old land dispute (rather than the 2000 y-o ancient enmity variety) with ethnic/religious overtones of course [not unlike fighting in the congo over natural resources for example] ...now how does one put out a fire again? suck out all the oxygen, without leaving any smouldering embers that would bring the inevitable back draft...

like, via AS (cf. the best blog of '8!) from the economist on the competing 'narratives' of nihilist terrorists vs. colonial subjugation:
Those who choose to reduce it to the “terrorism” of one side or the “colonialism” of the other are just stroking their own prejudices. At heart, this is a struggle of two peoples for the same patch of land. It is not the sort of dispute in which enemies push back and forth over a line until they grow tired. It is much less tractable than that, because it is also about the periodic claim of each side that the other is not a people at all—at least not a people deserving sovereign statehood in the Middle East.
which kinda reduces to us vs. them (or them) in the final analysis of non-granting the other their (shared) humanity; so specious...

anyway, fwiw, the economist has more this week:
-Gaza and the laws of war: But is it a crime?;
-Long past time to cease fire;
-The outlines of a settlement: How the Israelis might end their assault on Hamas;
-Hamas and diplomacy[1]; and
-Despite devoting unparalleled attention to the media, Israel is losing the propaganda war

and more from AS & friends recently:
-Blindly In Support Of Israel
-When Olmert Calls
-Meet The Samounis
-On Gaza, strategy, and tactics
-Of War, and Tent Hospitals

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 8:24 PM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems to me - as someone without a dog in this race - that the severity of the response and the intensity of the hasbara is in direct proportion to how fragile the Zionist project has become.

Before one gets to the moral or legal arguments around who killed or attacked who in 1948 or 1967, the facts basically amount to a transference of land from an indigenous group to what has now become primarily an immigrant one.

If those people were willing to go elsewhere, or didn't feel strongly about it, or if neighbours like Egypt or Jordan were happy to have them then it would all be A-OK. Which leaves only 3 options - use carrot or stick to "encourage" Palestinian emigration. Go for a two state solution. Or go for a one state solution.

The Palestinians clearly haven't emigrated and arguably can't emigrate. Unless someone has a genius solution for why this would change, I'd see this as a given.

If Israel gives into a proper two state solution eventually the Palestinians - or their neighbours - are likely to want to get back the land they see as unlawfully taken. In the short term this might mean 1967 borders but clearly in the long term it would be the whole shebang. The Palestinians would need more economic and military might, of course, but in due course with freer access to trade, arms, training and support they would only become more powerful than they are now. Demographics are on the Palestinians' side. At the moment, world opinion is on their side. The only real factors in Israel's favour are economic and military superiority, in no small part due to US backing. While I expect the US to continue to strongly support Israel, again (as I understand it) US demographics are not on Israel's side and the burgeoning numbers of non-white Americans are unlikely to give the same level of equivocal support.

There is also the risk, of course, that the Palestinians become the focus of Chinese projection into the Middle East, in much the same way as tinpot African countries formed the vanguard of Russian and US proxy wars. At any rate, I can't see Israel enjoying more support or superiority than it does now while there are plenty of reasons for it to get less.

The one state solution is barely better. Zionism without pro-Jewish apartheid in a one state solution won't work in the long term, not least because of external pressure and differing birth rates between Palestinians and non-Arab Israelis. Zionism without putting Jews at the cultural/political heart of Israel isn't Zionism and I would imagine would be unacceptable to a significant portion of the population. One would expect either version to be exacerbated by widespread Jewish emigration.

Which slightly begs the question what the long term future for Zionism is if its only means of survival is dependent on a weak and fragmented enemy, or on Palestinians somehow giving up their claims to the land within Israel's borders.

Again, I'm not massively interested in the moral arguments for the purposes of this exercise - I'd genuinely like to know what, practically, supporters of Zionism see as the long term solution to securing the future of Israel.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:35 AM on January 16, 2009


Israel broke this one

We can argue semantics, but it was Hamas who announced a formal end to the truce in late December. This is in no way is meant to diminish the seriousness if Israel's incursion into Gaza. A tunnel into Israeli territory is serious too, but there were perhaps less hostile ways in which to deal with this. Israel has been on the receiving end of rockets from Gaza since the truce began, with Hamas, of course, claiming it was out of their control. Israel didn't ease the blockade and through Fatah has been arresting Hamas members in the West Bank. The truce was quite spotty, but it was Hamas who formally walked away. Whether they had good reason is another issue entirely.
posted by caddis at 7:35 AM on January 16, 2009


No place is safe for Gazans
posted by homunculus at 3:04 PM on January 16, 2009




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