There’s always a lot of chatter about Hamas, and how Israel can’t deal with Hamas (pro-tip: it does, where do you think those ceasefires and prisoner swaps come from?), and if Hamas wasn’t there, this would all be over anyway because the problem is hummus, I mean Hamas (watch the fun short musical West Bank Story for some jokes about this).
A lot of wiser security experts now are actually warning that not engaging with Hamas, a broad political movement that seeks some level of international legitimacy, could lead to much worse — like an ISIS presence that Hamas has worked to prevent. Here’s the former head of Israeli Mossad warning about this.
Where did Hamas first come from, anyway? After all, the Palestinian movement was led for almost half a century by secular nationalists, some of them atheist Marxists, others Christians, others left-wing Muslims, certainly not the Islamist-tinged variety Hamas comes from.
This article from 1988 explains a little bit how Israel, then trying to refuse to even talk to Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was cracking down on Palestinian protesters of the first Intifada but purposely avoided the then-much more extreme Hamas:
The Israeli authorities have taken no direct action againt Hamas despite repeated crackdowns and roundups that Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin says have seen some 18,000 Palestinians in custody at various times since the protests began last December. A Toleration Is Seen
Many Palestinians maintain that the fundamentalists are being tolerated by the Israeli security forces in hopes of splitting the uprising, noting that such tactics have been used in the past in the Gaza Strip to set Islamic fundamentalists against Palestinian leftists.
”It certainly is remarkable with all these arrests, that someone like Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who just goes on saying the most awful things about Jews, isn’t touched,” said a Western diplomat, citing the fiery Gaza clergyman who is regarded as the spiritual leader of Hamas.
How did that work out for Israel (or for anyone else, for that matter)?
Those in Israel who argue they have to keep Gaza under permanent inhumane siege and never seriously talk to Hamas about anything else than occasional prisoner swaps might want to imagine what happens when Hamas is usurped by a group that lacks any desire to talk or endorsement of the international consensus that Hamas has been moving towards.
Something else on the topic. Remember Ned Lamont, the netroots-driven candidate who almost defeated Joe Lieberman? During his 2006 run, he stood shoulder to shoulder with Lieberman (and against the wise words of Chuck Hagel) in supporting Israel’s side of the Israel-Lebanon conflict.
It turns out when you’re not running for office in the United States, trying to court donors close to the Israel lobby, you can actually speak your mind and be a decent person. Lamont recently took a trip to Gaza City with a relief organization. You can read about his experience here. Here’s a picture of him with Gaza fishermen, who he explained were upset that Israel does not allow them to fish more than 5 kilometers away from seashore, even though fish start running at ten kilometers.
Can you imagine this picture surfacing in an ugly attack ad during Lamont’s 2006 run for Senate or 2010 run for Governor? Sadly, I can.
Israel certainly deserves a degree of the blame for Hamas having risen to the power and prominence that it has. But you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) talk about where Hamas came from and why without placing a good deal of the blame on the actual people in Hamas – the ones who blow up night clubs and public buses and still make quite clear they’ll never accept more than a temporary cease fire on the way to the ultimate elimination of Israel in its entirety. Israel may have fomented extremism through its actions, but these individuals still made a choice. How do we know it was a choice? Because the large majority of Palestinians chose not to do so.
Thanks to the right-wing there and the Boy Blunder administration’s destabilizing the entire Middle East Israel is in deep trouble. They think they have been so clever by carving Palestine into tiny, ungovernable, islands in a sea of Israel. That will work for a few years but will result in a hopelessness that will feed an unyielding violence (what have I got lo lose? I might just as well go on a suicide attack.). The rise of insanity like ISIS can be tied directly to the brain damaged meddling in situations they didn’t think they had to understand by Americas neo-clowns. The culmination of those forces could easily lead to the death of Israel. Not without tremendous cost but extermination as a country any way.
@dedc79: The large majority of Vietnamese chose not to take up arms against us, either, but without their help the Viet Cong would have had a much more difficult time of it.
Hezbollah and Hamas are features, not bugs.
Alas, marginalizing moderates leads to real enemies. I think there’s a parable about that.
“Look Palestinians, the PLO has done nothing for you! Don’t support them!”
“OK, we’ll go with the people who are more into direct action.”
Lather, rinse, repeat.
West Side Story was one of my favorite movies as a kid. We lived in an apartment over our family business, so we didn’t have a backyard like everyone else; we had a rooftop to play on. We used to act out West Side Story and our own little dance routines as we played the soundtrack. So I will have to go back and watch the rest of the video you linked to.
Zaid, I hope your participation in your threads here at Balloon Juice will be in the style of Kay and Richard Mayhew, where they answer questions in the comments and engage in a back and forth with the commenters.
I, for one, would love to hear your response to the comment at #1. And because I haven’t had the occasion to say it yet, welcome to Balloon Juice!
while holding little political power in a scene dominated by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine are all bravely defending Gaza against the racist aggressors of the apartheid regime.
in solidarity with the Resistance!
Hasbara says what?
@some guy: I had to look up the word to figure out what you were talking about. That’s a good discussion starter, thanks. Jackass.
“IDF confirms: Two of 13 soldiers killed in Gaza were U.S. citizens.”
Shouldn’t the American families of these two be facing charges for giving material support to a terror organization?
Given how the formation and continued existence of Israel has turned out for the ordinary Palestinian, I’m not sure how one would go about convincing such a person that the ultimate elimination of Israel in its entirety was anything but a legitimate and necessary goal. I’m pretty sure myself that the end of Israel would be one hell of a bloody mess for all concerned. But I’m also pretty sure that its formation was a mistake and that history fixes her mistakes, albeit in unpleasant ways.
I always find it humorous when Hasbara pretend they don’t know what the word hasbara means.
thanks for a small chuckle in a thread about such a grim topic.
bravest, most moral babykillers in the world:
@dedc79: Heh…nice cherry picking operation you’ve got going there.
I find your paranoia humorous. You remind me of the crazy right wingers who think any liberal comment must be from someone at OFA getting paid to comment.
Jesus, Amir, you’re gonna make the premillennial dispensationalists cry, you keep talking like that.
@Amir Khalid: If that’s the case, what would you have the Israelis do? I mean, I gather you’re not sympathetic to their continued existence, but putting sympathies aside, what would you do if you were in their shoes?
6:24 P.M. 13 Israeli soldiers were killed on Saturday night and early Sunday in several incidents across the Gaza Strip, bringing to a total 18 troop fatalities in less than two days. According to the IDF, all the soldiers were from the Golani Brigade.
Give back the land they stole. They’ll do it eventually. It’s just a case of how much time passes and how much suffering there is before it happens.
the Resistance have captured their first POW of the War.
11:23 P.M. The Hamas’ armed wing says it has captured an Israeli soldier during fighting in the Gaza Strip. Speaking on a Hamas television station, spokesman Abu Ubaida said “we have captured a Zionist soldier and the occupation has not admitted that.”
@Mandalay: Amir seems to believe that the existence of Israel proper is a mistake and it will cease to exist in some horrific battle. With respect to your comment, I can’t tell if you’re referring to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, or the whole country.
Looking on the bright side, they haven’t used white phosphorus. Yet.
That’s mighty white of them.
I have no idea what Israel should do. It was built on land that another people was robbed of. The people so dispossessed are rightly angry about that, and will kill to get it back. Wouldn’t you?
Yet an extant nation can’t just fold its tents and go away, nor should anyone demand that of it. What I am sure of is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is headed for a horrible resolution, probably some time in the next few decades.
Not necessarily in a battle like that at, say, Helm’s Deep. War isn’t just pitched battles. This one has been grinding on for decades, and could keep grinding on for decades more. In fact, it probably will.
@Mandalay: But they are using flechette shells against civilians. The results of this can be found on Twitter and elsewhere if you have the stomach to look. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/20/israel-using-flechette-shells-in-gaza
At this point, the only real solution left is a one-state solution: bring the Palestinian territories back into being part of Israel proper, make all people currently living in those territories Israeli citizens with full rights, and give monetary compensation to everyone whose land has been stolen. Yes, this will mean that Israel will no longer be a majority Jewish state, but it’s the only realistic solution now. Israel and the Palestinian Territories are too economically intertwined to allow for true Palestinian independence, and empowering Israeli Arabs to have full participation in the government is the only way to stop the killing.
This is the same solution that brought peace to Northern Ireland and South Africa. It’s the only one that will work here.
I syspect continued radicalization of Palestinian politics is a feature, not a bug, for quite a few neocons and Likudniks. More excuses to keep killing.
Didn’t think much of it as a kid, but finally saw it again as an adult, and, yeah. Great movie. And my is it ever applicable to tribal hate like the Israel/Palestine situation.
I recently argued with a few people here concerning the propriety of comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. For the record and in case any of those people read this, you were right and I was wrong.
Somehow I think it’s going to be another failed Crusader state. If it weren’t for the lifeline the United States gives it, it would have already been shorted. It can’t trade with its neighbors due to years of wars and abominable relations-and those neighbors having to take care of millions of displaced Palestinians with no recompense has not allowed those economies to flourish either. Answer this question: is there anything Israel has that the world needs so badly? Saudi has oil, China has millions of young healthy workers who work cheaptly, Europe has stable markets. Even nations below the equator have minerals and oil-and as some companies have already figured out-even cheaper labor.
Which is why there’s a panic over BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction). There’s nothing they can really do about this. Sure they can intimidate activists and try to criminalize this (yes, there was a measure brought up in Maryland on this subject). But that won’t make up for lost sales, and eventually lost investment. There are other places which are less dubious (Buy American!) and cheaper (Buy Chinese).
@Gator90: If you changed your mind … what made you do so?
I am in general not anti-Israel. In fact, much of my opposition to the way Israel is behaving is because I do not think it is best for Israel. I am rabidly anti-Netenyahu. He started the current mess. It was either a set-up, or he’s a moron, and I don’t think he’s a moron. He responded to a kidnapping with mass political arrests. When that stirred up violence, he responded by upping the violence ante. He’s thrown just enough sops to Israeli moderates to keep them from screeching, but not enough to calm anything. This is 9/11 with Cheney in charge. Netenyahu has exploited a crime that shocked all of Israel to launch the invasion he hasn’t been shy about wanting. I hope the West Bank Palestinians don’t give him an excuse to shift this to them.
Responding to Israel’s overreaction to provocations by calling them Nazis just makes the right-wingers’ PR easier. You want to do something to help Palestinian civilians, give to aid organizations and Palestinian political orgs who promote resisting the Israeli occupation in ways that don’t involve attacking civilians.
Hell, maybe even call up your Congresscritter and and say you oppose sending more money to Israel so they can bomb kids. And tell your friends to likewise. But if you prefer jerking off to being useful, by all means, just call the Israelis Nazis and feel better about yourself.
@Gator90: I may have been one of those people. Half of my family is Jewish and I am not someone who would throw the Nazi epithet around casually. But when you have leaders of a democratically elected government using language that seems to be lifted almost verbatim from Nazi Germany, including all the weasely lies and justifications, the comparison becomes unavoidable. Ironically, it’s the words of Israel’s defenders, not detractors, that convinced me of this. Like the teabaggers, they exist so deep in their bubble that they have lost the ability to communicate with normal people. Their propaganda works, but only with sociopaths.
Its why Rabin had to be killed, he was going to bring Palestinian resistance to an end and make peace. This would have put the right-wing out in the cold sputtering in frustration. It is critical for the Likudniks that some number of Palestinians continue to take shots at Israel so that they can use it as an excuse to continue to steal Palestinian land. BTW – you know that the nuttiest of the right-wing believe that God gave them all the land up to the Tigris and Euphrates? They seriously want all that land “back”.
I get the parallel with West Side Story but never could take a singing and dancing gang seriously.
“even though fish start running at ten kilometers.”
Just a quibble, but as a one-time deckhand on a commercial fishing boat, that’s a silly statement. (It may be true, I’m sure it is, about the type of fish these guys wanted to catch at some given time, but to say “fish start running at ten kilometers” – gah. No.)
@beltane: Look, I’m Jewish and I agree on the substance, but you’re not going to win fence-sitters over by casually tossing about the Nazi comparison. Quote to them statements by nuts like Moshe Feiglin and say that you find them abhorrent, but let them draw the implication.
@Amir Khalid: Hell, the reason there’s an Israel today is in part because a whole lot of jews never forgot the land that was stolen from their ancestors centuries and centuries before. So, no, I don’t expect Palestinians to forget something that happened just a few decades ago.
What I hope for is some kind of compromise – one that will leave both sides dissatisfied, but not so dissatisfied that they keep on trying to kill each other to win outright.
@Schlemizel: It was Rabin, not Peres, who was assassinated.
Exactly! Though I think it goes further back than the kidnapping, that was just the most recent spike, they have been provoking violence for years, years before Bibi. Its working for them but its short sighted. It will end badly for Israel in time.
Thanks, I’ll fix that.
@Cervantes: Dead kids, mostly.
@dedc79: I honestly don’t think there’s a short-term solution. The Palestinians need to have a sense of positive future for themselves and their children, so they won’t succumb to the rhetoric of nihilistic factions. And nuts from Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East need to stop using Palestinians as their pawns to undermine Israel. And, yes, our own right-wingers need to stop giving carte blanche to Israel to disregard Palestinians’ rights and expand the settlements.
There’s so much that has to go right, and so many groups invested in making sure they go wrong, that make me pessimistic that there will be any near-term solution at hand.
@dslak: That’s what I have been doing with my Jewish relatives. Just sending them the actual words of right-wing government officials, without any commentary from me, has been sufficient to get the point across. As an added bonus, I’ll sometimes send links to stories of left-wing Jewish protesters being attacked by mobs of RW thugs chanting “Death to Arabs! Death to Leftists!” These are things that speak for themselves.
Unquestionably, the settlements must be removed and the land returned to the Palestinians.
The problem is that in the eyes of both Hamas and Likud, Tel Aviv (founded 1909, metro area population 3.5 million) is a settlement.
@beltane: That’s what I and my father-in-law have been doing with my mother-in-law. She’s not been happy about it, but she accuses us of anti-semitism a bit less often now.
This is a great, left-wing Israeli comedy skit from a couple of years ago.
A compromise like the one Mnemosyne describes #26? That would mean a secular nation with a Gentile majority, as she notes, and then Israel wouldn’t be Israel anymore. I can’t see them going for that.
I find it ironic that the people who believe they’re entitled to a piece of land because god gave it to them and regardless of how removed they are from that land, they have a right to settle there, have the gall to call anyone aa religious exteremidt.
@Mnemosyne: Actually the militant Israeli solution in the works according to some, would be that except they’re going to lock in current soft theocracy with constitutional changes to make Judaism the state religion, make people who aren’t ethnically Jewish essentially second class citizens, and probably forcibly remove an unknown percentage of the Palestinians from the West Bank (whether they end up in a continually occupied Gaza or refugee camps outside of Israeli-controlled territory is unclear).
So, the coalescing long term Israeli goals seem to be what you’re talking about when it benefits Israel/Israelis and a total avoidance of it when it would require giving something up. Plus ça change…
(Also that’s literally the opposite of what has happened in northern Ireland which is very much still occupied by the UK who are never going to redistribute the land they awarded to Ulster settlers let alone reinstate Irish control of the entire island.)
@Gator90: Yes, I see what you mean. Thanks for clarifying.
@gorram: I wouldn’t take right-wingers’ word that they intend to respect the rights of Palestinians incorporated into an Israeli state. While it might be a decent and well-motivated idea theoretically, I’m pretty sure that for the ones pushing it on the right, it’s really a stalking horse for something more sinister.
@Gator90: look up structural voilence and you won’t question radicalization of Palestinians.
I think Likud has been a disaster for Israel’s peaceful prospects, but they keep getting elected so they find enough support in the voters there, somehow… I think Bibi has tried to guide the recent conflict so that he can appear to be the “strong leader” that he thinks will keep him in power as well. He thinks the consequences for him and Israel will be easy to deal with. I think he may be wrong.
I don’t think that anything Hamas does politically will change any of the calculus in Israel’s leadership. Israel claims (disingenuously as Zaid said) that Hamas is a non-entity that cannot be talked to. Likud still wants Judea and Samaria for all eternity and thus will not give up the West Bank. They refuse to negotiate over East Jerusalem. They refuse to give up their demands that any Palestinian state be effectively disarmed. They demand to set all the final status conditions before even beginning to negotiate. Bottom line, Bibi thinks he holds all the cards so there’s nothing to negotiate over. He thinks time is on his side.
How are the Palestinians not supposed to be angry and frustrated with their powerlessness in this situation and the injustice of their status in world politics?
Unfortunately, I think the only thing that will change the thinking of Israel’s leadership is if the costs of their policies begin to be too expensive for Israel’s voters. The (apparently surprising) greater range of Hamas’s rockets is part of that cost. The increased losses and casualties and kidnappings of IDF personnel is part of that cost. Increased questioning and criticism of their policies by the US is part of that cost. Will it be enough? Probably not in the short term.
The longer this goes on, the stronger Hamas becomes, it seems to me. Bibi is playing with too many lives – here’s hoping this helps speed his departure from office, and finally makes real negotiations possible.
I am so bloody sick of the claim that the slaughter of innocent people
by bringing down the full force of modern weaponry from every possible
direction to mangle, scorch, and shred their flesh in the most horrific and violent ways is not monstrous because [we have a good reason].
If one of their choices was bombing night clubs, what is it you believe their other choice or choices were?
I’m one who believes Israel created Hamas. Not intentionally, but Israel bears responsibility for its troubles.
@dslak: No agreed, I’m even more skeptical than the article I linked to and they basically are calling it second class citizenship. They thought that security sweeps as Israel incorporates the West Bank might kick some people out, I’d expect that to happen on a huge scale. Maybe not enough to maintain a Jewish majority in the resulting state, but enough to make the minority rule more feasible.
Also I forgot to mention, no repatriation for current Palestinian refugees was a pretty consistent part of the platform. Given how many hoops current Palestinian citizens have to jump through to just give their kids Palestinian citizenship when the kids are born in Palestine, I’m willing to bet even tighter restrictions on that will be used to increase the number of non-citizens on then officially Israeli land (assuming that non-citizens won’t be forcibly removed… which is again an assumption). Between forced removal of people from the territory as its incorporated (security! peace keeping! buzzwords!) and a lovely choice between deportation or abject marginalization as a non-citizen, ethnic cleansing doesn’t seem like the wrong language to describe these plans.
(And this is primarily about the West Bank. What I’ve seen people saying about Gaza is even more violent, and makes the use of terms like ethnic cleansing seem pretty on the nose.)
Have you seen “The Gatekeepers”? I watched it recently, It’s an Israeli documentary consisting of interviews with 6 former heads of Shin Bet. To my great surprise, all of them are against Israel’s strategy (this was from 2012). One of them, when asked if he thought Israel was behaving like Nazis, he replied not like they were with the Jews, of course, but he said he believed that Israel has treated the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Czechs, Danes, Hungarians, etc.
Which is what I mean when I make that comparison.
I can imagine that picture in 2014 in an attack ad against someone who supported Lamont back in 2006. Probably by the end of the week.
The CNN crawl asked the question ‘should the US get involved’ and I think the short answer is no. The longer answer is no way full stop.
We’ve seen this movie before. International pressure forced a ceasefire in 2007 and then a new round of fighting, with improved weapons, broke out in 2009. The 2009 cease fire lasted till 2012. In 2012 Hamas had more and better rockets but a cease fire was finally arranged. Well here we are in 2014 with Hamas having even better rockets and deeper tunnels. The blood letting will go on for a few more days or a few weeks with neither side scoring a knockout and then a cease fire will be arranged. Both sides will go back to their respective corners, rebuild their arsenals with new and better weapons and then get ready to do it all over again in 2-3 years.
I know this is going to sound blood thirsty but maybe the only thing that can be done is let the two sides fight it out, like two scorpion’s in a bottle, until they are exhausted. It won’t bring real peace but it might result in a longer time between blood lettings.
Another Holocene Human (now with new computer)
@Mike J: You could replace “PLO” with “union”, you know.
The Palestinians need to use non-violent measures. They need a Gandhi or MLK. Nothing will change until then.
That’s what makes Northern Ireland a similar compromise to what I’m proposing in Israel — neither side got everything they wanted, but the Catholics were given a voice and role in the government so they have an opportunity to address their grievances peacefully. It’s not a perfect solution, but it has reduced the violence down to a few fringe groups rather than a constant, ongoing battle.
I hope Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton’s full-throated support for our “shared values” with the State of Israel also surface during the 2016 campaign. I guess ethnic cleansing is part of those “shared values”.
I don’t know. To me, it sounds like we’re running out of candidates with courage. On Israel, her website sounds like something straight outta AIPAC.
There was a Gandhi in the Israeli/Palestinian mess. His name was Yitzhak Rabin. Unfortunately, he was assassinated for the same reason Gandhi was — someone on his own side thought his compromises went too far, so he murdered Rabin.
Nonviolent resistance only works if the side using violence is willing to be pressured by outside forces into behaving. If the death of Rachel Corrie didn’t shame the Israelis into stopping the violence, nothing will.
@some guy: All true Israelis return to the fatherland? Nah, that’s in poor taste.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@Johnny Scrum-half: Israel has done everything it can to prevent an effective non-violent resistance from breaking out. When one has tried to do so anyway, they crush it in a manner calculated to inflame passions and produce violence.
Israel will never give back land or compromise. They will either commit genocide or they’ll be stopped.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
You elegantly captured a ton of truth in that sentence. Well said.
Great White Giver-of-Wisdom to Lesser Mortals Nick Kristof made this suggestion within the last couple days, and the responses – at least what I saw on Twitter – were less than welcoming, often including examples of failed peaceful protests, as well as quotes from Gandhi as to why what worked for India won’t work in the existing situation there.
Mnemosyne (#64) provided the example of Rachel Corrie – after her death (crushed by Israeli bulldozer) was called things like “Saint Pancake” and “Rachel Pancake” by our always adorable wingnuts. And TTP/JMN (#65) provided further explanation on how the government there sabotages peace initiatives in ways that the Indian independence movement didn’t have to face.
And my favorite, from an Indian tweep:
What a worthless, spineless piece of shit, just like the rest of the Senate:
Israel has taken in a large number of Russian immigrants in the last two decades in a desperate effort to bolster their population. People not necessarily heavily vested in their Jewish identity or well acquainted with Western ideas of democracy and pluralism. Perhaps the kind of people who’d be voting for expansionist authoritarian strongmen-thugs like Putin if they were still in Russia.
Demanding that the Palestinians practice non-violence is a bit rich. Why not demand it from the Israelis, too? Still, there’s significant power to be gained from being the morally superior combatant, and no Palestinian group will ever stand a chance of defeating Israel militarily. Such groups can however reject terrorism against civilians without denying the right of violence to oppose oppression.
Chris Hayes, who’s been getting a certain amount of heat for “going corporate” on hot issues like the Israeli occupation since he went prime time, just tweeted this:
Some twitter responses to that are positive, but I would say most are not. One reply said a better question would be ‘where is the Palestinian Mandela’?
@Mandalay: You know, it looks bad, but the fact that Warren, Kerry, Murphy et al. are so transparent about the fact they are acting out of fear of the Israel Lobby is a step forward. 5 years ago you could get destroyed for even letting the mask slip for a second. Sort of like how Obama’s “evolving position” on gay marriage was a bullshit way of saying “I support it but I don’t want to spend the political capital.”
I don’t think it’s courage. It’s simply being able to read the electorate, same as… countless American liberal politicians in the past on all kinds of issues. A strong stance wouldn’t mean much if it led to them being run out on a rail in the next election.
I haven’t been in America since before this whole thing started, so tell me if I’m wrong, but from what I’m getting on the Facebook grapevine, basically everyone who wasn’t already a left wing/civil rights activist type is in hysterics over how awful the Palestinians are and how awful it is that America isn’t doing enough to help Israel and how admirable and restrained and noble these brave, brave Israelis are. (Including some people who really ought to know better and usually follow the lefties’ lead on such issues). And the pro-Israel hysteria seems to get ratcheted up higher and higher each time there’s a crisis like this. The Gallup polls I check every so often consistently show approval/sympathy for Israel rising, not falling, over the years.
If anything, it seems like it’s harder to find opponents of Israeli intransigence in America than it is in Israel.
And that’s kind of the problem. I’ve heard this war compared to Northern Ireland or Cyprus before, but in both those cases, you had a superpower that was actually interested in making peace. In Ireland, you had on the one hand America’s strategic interest in and partnership with the British, and on the other hand a loud and active movement in the Irish-American community sympathizing with northern Catholics. In Cyprus, okay, neither Greeks nor Turks rate that kind of pull in U.S. politics – but still, our main interest was to keep the conflict down to a minimum, not ratched it up.
That’s not the case in Israel/Palestine. We may be in favor of “peace” in theory, but in practice, we’re pretty much only in favor of it insofar as it’s on whatever terms Israel wants. The White House might still be willing to say “no” to Israel on Big Picture issues like bombing Iran, but not Palestine. Which makes sense, because any president who makes a real, serious effort to put pressure on Israel will almost certainly find himself overruled by Congress. I don’t see that changing in the future, either, for the reasons I said above. People who give a shit about Palestine are pretty much limited to the aforementioned activists and the Arab/Muslim community, both of which are even more marginalized in the post-9/11 context than they normally would be.
I hesitate to give too much significance to America’s role in these kinds of conflicts (I’ve heard Irish activists get pretty mad at the perception that Clinton took all the credit for the eventual settlement). But it does seem like at least a huge factor to consider – is the relevant superpower trying to help resolve the conflict (or at least willing to see it resolved), or is it in the tank for one of the participants? As long as Israel knows they can count on continued U.S. support pretty much no matter what they do, incentives to negotiate are a lot thinner than they might otherwise be.
@Mnemosyne: I know I’ve linked to this writer in the past but I still think it’s apt. Northern Ireland is soon to be (next decade) overrun with majority Catholics, which could cause the UK to bow out of No Ireland.
@sharl: Palestinian Mandelas (or should that be Palestinian MANDELAs?) are dead or in prison — just like the South African original.
In Israel, the newspapers and TV channels are less able to hide the truth about what’s going on.
If anything, they are too heavily invested in their Jewish identities.
I’ve heard others among those activists quote Harry Truman to the effect that, sometimes, you can get a whole lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit.
I noticed when looking at the Gallup website this morning, a small link at the bottom that read “Since WWII, Harry Truman Has Lowest Presidential Approval Rating.”
Sounds like him living up to his philosophy. (For the record, he might just be my favorite).
Well, if it was a poll to gauge public opinion, that makes a kind of sense. There are fewer people alive today who personally remember Truman’s presidency than any other post-war administration.
@Mnemosyne: Ah, sorry I misunderstood you. Land return was overtly not a part of the compromise to end the Troubles, but which seem to be a pretty mandatory part of resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict by the looks of it. That said though, open, peace-driven negotiation is pretty important.
Considering that UVF in particular, and Ulster paramilitaries in general, have been seen as involved in a variety of hate killings over the past year, I’m kind of hesitant to call northern Ireland resolved, but yes, the situation has improved.
@sharl: Why has this specific episode in the decades-long Israel/Palestine conflict led to so many inaccurate/incomplete/etc comparisons? (I’ve been focusing on the northern Ireland stuff but clearly anti-colonialism in India is getting dragged into this too).
(Edit: that isn’t directed at Mnemosymne. I jumped on her in this thread in part because of really awful comparisons I’ve seen elsewhere as of late.)
@Ramalama: People forget there already was one Irish civil war, which wasn’t over whether the country should aim to reclaim modern northern Ireland (ie Ulster), but whether they should go so far as to declare war on the UK or not. This was kind of a historical inevitability, given that the modern northern Ireland territory was essentially gerrymandered to maintain the slimmest of unionist majorities over as much land as possible (as well as, you know, most of those unionists not being ethnically Irish but Scottish/English settlers given plantation land titles by the English monarchy).
The situation in northern Ireland is currently not active, prevalent violence, but that doesn’t mean that it’s resolved by a long shot.
@Ramalama: Also having read that in full now… uuuuhhhh. I’m a bit uncomfortable with the use of terms like “demographic threat” and strange contrast between the IRA (which he makes certain to specify as in any and all iterations are violent, in his words people who “murder and bomb with impunity”) and the UDA (who in his description just happen to be an organization, no paramilitary status, not a terrorist organization according to not only the US but even the UK government).
Just be aware you’re quoted/supporting a guy who pretty much is shouting from the rooftops “it’s okay if we do it”. He’s an Ulsterite who very strongly identifies as an Ulsterite (his own life story seems to track the path of emigration/repatriation he describes as impossible and yet still happening) and who’s pretty overtly defending Ulsterite groups’ violent acts.
@gorram: I don’t read it that way at all. On one hand, Adrian is indeed an Ulsterite – he grew up in firebombed, war ridden Northern Ireland. Only later, grown and living in either New York or in Oz did he realize that other children didn’t necessarily grow up under such circumstances.
On the other hand, he’s an Irishman. He once told of an incident of how he was moving into one of the college houses at Oxford (for his undergrad). It was in the 1980s. When learning that an Irishman would be joining the house, the don or other grand poobah said something so incredibly racist it shocked me. Along the lines of Bull Connor in the 1950s towards African Americans. It was a while back, and I don’t know if it was a comment or an actual post, so no link.
As for ‘it’s ok if we do it’ I don’t follow. I’ve been reading his blog longer than BJ and interact with him frequently…he taught writing in the same program that proffered my degree. Where does he advocate for violence?
All of which kind of points to two neighboring countries at war with each other (No Ireland / Ireland — Palestine / Israel) — that kind of extreme ill will doesn’t go away it seems. Which kind of is one of his points about Yugoslavia.
Dude in Princeton
@some guy: Perfect.
@beltane: It wasn’t all that long ago a lot of folks here agreed that using biological and commercial chemical weapons against civilians is no different than any other kind of violent death. Pretty clearly Syrian civilians disagree, but perhaps they lack the perspective we have for them.
I disagreed then, still do. Certain weapons are more horrific than others. Flechettes are horrible weapons – they have no business being used in densely populated civilian areas. But nowhere near as horrific as gas attacks.
Handwaving away Hamas’ role doesn’t do the average Arab Palestinian any favors. That Israel once encouraged them has no relevance, and is no different than excusing Al Qaeda and solely blaming US policy alone for 911. Which of course is a tactic we still see.
If we’re going to talk about Hamas, we should talk about who they are today and what they do to keep their hold on power. Let’s talk about all the elections that have been held, for example, since Hamas ethnically cleansed Fatah families.