65 thoughts on “Barak: We Could Have Stopped Rockets by Accepting Hamas Ceasefire – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I think you’re taking Barak’s comments out of context. He’s referring to post-Cast Lead; Olmert then seeks to challenge him by referring to the situation pre-Cast Lead, and thus the two periods get conflated. I like your Kabuki drama metaphor, and there’s certainly some truth to it, but it seems unlikely that Barak (who was arguably the leading architect of Cast Lead) would so openly deride its original purpose.

  2. “What Barak and Olmert appear to agree on (though coming at it from different vantage points and for opposite political purposes) is that Hamas presented terms for a ceasefire that could have averted Operation Cast Lead. ”

    I’m glad you used the term “appear”.

    What were the SPECIFIC terms of the cease-fire renewal that you understand Hamas was offering?

  3. “Imagine if he had to look in the mirror and really accept that his decisions to take the country to war have not only cost the lives of hundreds of Israeli boys, but that they have been all for naught.” He doesn’t need to look in the mirror, he only needs to look out of his window towards Gaza to see the rockets still flying in to Israel.

    “Possibly if Barak insisted on the negotiations, that might explain why Olmert would both allow them to proceed and wish them to fail.” Sounds so spiteful. I’m baffled by Israeli democracy. Why can’t Israel have one unified ruling party that governs whilst other parties sit in opposition, like normal democracies? And where does the presidency sit in all of this?

    1. where does the presidency sit in all of this?

      The Israeli president is a titular figure w. little real influence.

      As for the reason for unity governments, over the past few decades Israel has decided various times that conditions were so dangerous that they required a broad coalition government. Largely it has been Labor agreeing to sit in these awkward grand coalitions as junior partner to Likud, to the detriment of their greater moral authority.

  4. Witty you’re so desperate. This Hebrew article and the Haaretz article confirm what people on this blog and Phil’s have been saying to you for the past couple of weeks.

    And why don’t YOU tell us Witty. You first wouldn’t cite the article that stated definitively that Hamas was INSIDE Israel building tunnels to kidnap soldiers. Whereas I was upfront with my source – WP article, Jimmy Carter.

    And then you backtracked to – ‘we both don’t know for sure’.

    So you tell us Witty. What were Hamas “specific” terms. I quote specific because you place emphasis on that word in your original post where it isn’t needed.

    Why? Because you’re clearly begging the question.

    Implying that things must be made “specific” because ‘it’s Hamas’. In the face of evidence that quite often draws those ‘Finkelstinian’ – as you put it – conclusions, you still play rhetorical games. EMPTY rhetorical games.

    You still don’t give damn about justice. You just obfuscate the reality of the conflict with your contrived commentary. Your commentary is a tactic. Not meaningful dialogue. The mere ‘act of’ giving your commentary is to present doubt where there is none. You dress it up a good deal but it’s still transparent.

    Of course, this skepticism/hypocrisy is only applicable if you disregard the context and facts of the truce/ENTIRE CONFLICT.

    1. Please don’t accuse Richard Witty of not giving a damn about justice. He attended a pro-Israel pro-fair and just peace demonstration yesterday don’t you know!

  5. BTW, we all know this happened months ago.

    The Independent ran an article on the cabinet meeting w/ the head of Shin Bet PRIOR to the massacre.

    In that meeting Israeli politicians dismissed Hamas’s proposal. This was on the 23rd of December. The formal end of the lull was on the 18th or 19th.

    These 2 new articles are just nice bonuses. But they serve as a killing stroke for the deluded bourgeois Zionists like Witty.

  6. Good catch Richard.

    Kabuki theater is (in its English meaning) an apt analogy – although I am afraid many Japanese would find the common English usage offensive. We should perhaps find another term for this game.

    Anyway, without doubt the master of this theater is Bibi – an empty balloon who thrives on even emptier rhetoric. I fail to understand why he wants to be PM so badly. He has absolutely nothing to put on the table there except theatrics – just like in his first term.
    Lieberman is even more corrupt and insincere, of course (see my latest @ http://assaf.dailykos.com) – but he at least does have some scary potential. Which Bibi lacks in my opinion.

    Olmert is the most enigmatic. I was asked about his motives; frankly I have no clue. Some suggested he is brandishing a hawkish image for a possible return to politics if he is cleared. I dunno. The hawk field is kinda crowded. As Richard hints, his family is far to the left of him, and salvaging some moderate credential by getting a ceasefire during his waning days, would make infinitely more sense.
    My personal guess is: it’s just Olmert being his usual, petty corrupt irresponsible mean self.

    As to deals and details: Of course there was a deal on the table again a few weeks ago after the war. It was all over the Israeli press. Then Olmert and his cabinet rejected it, citing (again) Gilad Shalit as a pretext. This, even though there was a prisoner deal being negotiated simultaneously, and waiting on the heels of the ceasefire.

    The Egyptians who tore their butt off negotiating the two deals were furious and let the world know about it.

    the mainstream US media?

    Which enables commenters like the first one to innocently ask, “what deal are you talking about?…”

  7. LD,
    I don’t know the specific proposal. Just to eliminate the doubt that the proposal was beyond potential to be considered, it would help if you paraphrased it even, better if you had a reliable citation.

    Just so the question can be actually considered, rather than gullibly digested.

    Richard S earlier sited the Slater article and concluded that his timeline was a “complete” one. It ommitted important facts to my math, that I knew of well, so even if his insights were plausible, I could not buy into them on the basis of his assertion and then force.

    Your thesis seems to be that “Hamas had no other choice but to resume shelling civilians”. I’m certain that they didn’t have any good ones. Hamas and Israel have been at war for a very long time, and wishful thinking without real change in policy by either doesn’t convince a skeptic.

    My understanding is that their decision process was contentious and did consider multiple options. I read in Haaretz that the social service and Gazan domestic wing favored extending the cease fire as it was, even as it did not meet their goals. Opposing them were Meshal and the Syrian cadre, the militant brigade and the younger and angrier new membership, and “encouragement” from Syria and Iran.

    They undertook a difficult decision process and made a bad one, that is still being repeated but by proxy.

  8. This post is so confused I don’t know where to start. The argument Barak and Olmert were having in the meeting concerned terms for an arrangement after operation cast lead. How could agreement to the terms offered AFTER the operation have averted the operation?
    Israel had complied with the terms of the Tahadiyah while Hamas had not. Israel never agreed to end the siege in exchange for a ceasefire but merely to relax it, which it did. At the end, Israel asked to extend the Tahdiyah and Hamas tried to renegotiate its terms. In other words the Hamas ended the Tahadiyah. For some strange reason Israel doesn’t want a free flow of metal and fuel to Gaza. Hamas fired missiles into Israel in attempt to intimidate Israel to accept its new terms. For some strange reason, firing missiles into Israel didn’t convince Israel’s leaders that they should allow an unimpeded flow of metal and fuel into Gaza. After the operation cast lead there appear to be three opinions. Zippi Livni, that Israel should not seek an agreement just as no agreement was sought after operation defensive field. Barak – that a new agreement along the lines( more or less) of the Tahadiyah should be reached. Olmert – a new agreement with improved conditions for Israel should be reached. That’s the entire disagreement. Nobody is saying Israel should accept Hamas’ old terms for a ceasefire, that is a complete lift of the embargo.
    This is what Moussa Abu Marzouk said in an interview with Al-Risala. Abu Marzouk is Hamas numbr 2 man in Damascus:

    Al-Risala: “A few days before the Tahdiah ended, a senior Israeli official visiting Cairo said that Israel would like to extend it. Did Egypt convey to you Israel’s wish to extend the Tahdiah?”

    Abu Marzouq: “It was not only via the Egyptian mediator that Israel expressed this [wish], but also – and very clearly – via the media, stating that a Tahdiah was its strategic goal. This is because [the Israelis] want peace and quiet in Gaza, in order to continue their sanctions in the West Bank and to make this situation ordinary.

    “This is why Israel strove to extend the Tahdiah, and even asked for Egypt’s [cooperation] in this matter, according to Egyptian [sources] and news agencies’ reports. [However,] Egypt made no attempt to extend or revise [the conditions of] the Tahdiah, and the Palestinians showed no interest in agreeing to the Zionists’ wish for it.”

    As is plain to see – Israel wanted to continue the ceasefire. It is Hamas which ended it and tried, through a war of terror on Israeli civilians, to impose new conditions.

    1. The argument Barak and Olmert were having in the meeting concerned terms for an arrangement after operation cast lead. How could agreement to the terms offered AFTER the operation have averted the operation?

      Once again, the Guardian article I linked to specifically reveals that Olmert was THRICE offered a deal fr. Hamas BEFORE the war. He refused every time. NOt only refused, but did so scornfully & w/o exploring it at all.

      Israel had complied with the terms of the Tahadiyah

      WRONG, as has been pointed out here by me & numerous other commenters who’ve quoted chapter & verse to prove the point.

      Israel never agreed to end the siege in exchange for a ceasefire but merely to relax it, which it did

      Wrong again on BOTH COUNTS as has been pointed out here.

      Hamas ended the Tahadiyah

      Yes, after Olmert refused to negotiate its renewal.

      For some strange reason Israel doesn’t want a free flow of metal and fuel to Gaza.

      Nor lentils, paste or sugar. All key ingredients of explosive devices I suppose.

      Israel wanted to continue the ceasefire.

      What you mean to say is that Israel wanted the a continuation of peace on the southern front in return for giving nothing of value to Gazans in return. I wouldn’t accept those terms either if I were a Gazan.

  9. A word dropped after “The mainstream US media?” in my comment above.

    It was “(crickets)”.

    The deal ditched in the last minute by Olmert was fairly big news on all other continents except the blissful Land of the Free (free of real information, that is).

  10. No, Witty. I am with you, when it comes to condemning Hamas’s targeting of civilians and firing of rockets on civilian targets/etc.

    I am against all forms of terror and blah blah.

    However, when I put the violence in context – I am not going to use the same rhetoric/tone as you do in your condemnation.

    I mean, it’s a given – to condemn terror. It’s a given to condemn the rockets. You use this as your crux though, while at the same time dismissing the same sorts of morally bankrupt behavior on Israel’s side which btw is far greater in SCALE and frequency.

    Not to mention, the lack of oversight and yada yada yada.

    We’re both express moral repulsion at these types of acts. However, they are not on the same level in the aforementioned ways. They are superficially equatable – i.e., ‘both sides have made mistakes.’ Or ‘both Hamas and Israel have caused harm to each others’ civilians’.

    It’s preposterous to say these things. So, while I detest Hamas’s intentional blah blah – I end up on ‘their side’ indirectly by my condemnation of the bigger violator of the rules of war/human rights/etc. Bigger violator in every sense.

    Now, as to your desire for a clarification on those terms. Yea, I agree with you in that regard then.

    As to Hamas’s decisions: yes, I agree – stupid tactics. They should know by now that Israel will always respond with disproportionate force as part of it’s deterrence capacity.

    However, that is still no excuse once you apply the context.

    First – consider the truce. The MFA report. All that stuff I usually say. Do you dispute the findings? Would you add a different perspective to Hamas’s behavior during the truce?

    Ok, now what about Israel? Do you think Israel behaved well? Well enough?

    I referenced an article that stated that during 2007 – 500 trucks were sent in daily. During the truce, an ave. of 120 were sent in. Many lows of 30ish daily.

    So why the huge drop? It’s not 499, or 400, or 300, or 200. It’s 120 ave. daily.

    And again, consider the wording – ease the blockade. Not stop – which is definitive.

    Hamas had to stop the rockets. Technically they didn’t do so. But are we really going to dismiss all that quiet for 12 rockets? And if not 12, how about 1 rocket? That’s still 1 too many for the definitive wording – “stop”.

    Yet, with Israel we had the word “ease” – subjective. Who decides then? Whether Israel ‘eased’ the blockade?

    It’s inherently unfair on Hamas and the Palestinians. Not unreasonable, mind you. It’s not unreasonable to ask someone to stop trying to kill you.

    However, again – because this entire conflict is screwed up as is every other conflict that may be similar – we have to put these things in context.

    Lowering standards/etc.

    So back to Israel. Yea, they allowed in aide – just not enough. Not even close to enough.

    Regular condemnations from various human rights groups wasn’t going to do anything though. Because it’s Israel. No oversight.

    So this truce was dictated by who? Who would assess the situation and decide the final verdict? Israel of course. Regardless of this insufficient aide, Israel is not held accountable.

    And again, those rockets, Witty. Those rockets that killed 20 people in 8 years.

    When you factor all these different variables in – wouldn’t it be reasonable to put the burden on the more powerful entity – the entity with the 4th strongest military in the world?

    That’s where I’m coming from.

    I mean, to tell you the truth, it’s like fighting blue-collar crime. Petty thugs who may rob a 7-11 as opposed to corporate criminals who affect millions of people and whose crimes are far more intricate and devastating.

    You take the very easy – superficial truth laden – route.

    Yes, Hamas uses terror. It’s wrong to target civilians intentionally. Etc.

    This is what is heard on TV all the time because it’s not controversial and it’s part of the establishment rhetoric. No one will say Israel is intentionally causing the physical destruction of Palestinian society/infrastructure. No one will dispute the BLATANT lies that Hezbollah used human shields/or (if I’m very generous) used human shields to such an extent that those civilian casualties during the Lebanon 2006 war, were THEIR fault and not Israel’s.

    Expressing these superficial truths or dishonest rhetoric or blatant LIES is uncontroversial in the mainstream.

    To challenge them however, you need lots of evidence. You have to be convincing because it’s very easy for those people to dismiss you as heretic and terrorist sympathizer – which you have alluded to as well.

    It’s just dishonest in every way. And it comes back to that fundamental aspect of thinking critically about the conflict and asking the right questions.

    As I said before, read those human rights watch reports on the 2006 war. Or the US Army War College report.

    You end up with Finkelsteinian conclusions.

    Now, maybe I am simply not very good at expressing myself and I should cite every single thing I say. Perhaps then I’d be more compelling.

  11. Perhaps more seasoned Olmert watchers can tell me where this man is really coming from – if it is not from all wind directions at once. In the last few years he has often come up with statements that made him look like a man of vision. In an interview that appeared originally in Yedioth Ahronot in September last year, and in its English translation in the New York Review of Books of Dec.4, he said of himself: “What I’m saying here has never been said by a leader of Israel. But the time has come to say these things. The time has come to put them on the table.”

    What did he say then. Well, among other things this:

    “Ehud Olmert: At the moment, I’d like to do some soul-searching on behalf of the nation of Israel…. In a few years, my grandchildren will ask what their grandfather did, what kind of country we have bequeathed them. I said it five years ago, in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, and I’ll say it to you today: we have a window of opportunity—a short amount of time before we enter an extremely dangerous situation—in which to take a historic step in our relations with the Palestinians and a historic step in our relations with the Syrians. In both instances, the decision we have to make is the decision we’ve spent forty years refusing to look at with our eyes open.

    We must make these decisions, and yet we are not prepared to say to ourselves, “Yes, this is what we must do.” We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians, meaning a withdrawal from nearly all, if not all, of the [occupied] territories. Some percentage of these territories would remain in our hands, but we must give the Palestinians the same percentage [of territory elsewhere]—without this, there will be no peace.

    Yedioth Ahronoth: Including Jerusalem?

    Ehud Olmert: Including Jerusalem—with, I’d imagine, special arrangements made for the Temple Mount and the holy/historical sites.”

    The Wiki on him refers to similar statements in an article he once wrote for the Guardian.

    He is also on record for welcoming the Arab League’s reconfirmation in 2007 of its peace initiative of 2002.

    So a man of “the grand vision”, now reducing it all to a hassle about Gilad Shalit … Is this man for real?

  12. “Destroys”. Why that language LD?

    The resolution is simple. Mutual acceptance.

    Either “we’ll leave you alone if you leave us alone” (no presumption of opening borders as that is Israel’s business in that setting).


    “We’ll do what we need to do to reconcile.” (resulting in normalized borders)

    There is no option to get the cook to make a special meal. Only whats on the menu is available.

  13. If we leave aside the question whether Olmert really meant what he said, the election results still leave a lot of room for doubt whether Israel will really move in the direction he allegedly deems necessary.

    The option between a one state or two state solution might be resolved in favour of the former, but then one state without Palestinians. The prominent Dutch-Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld already judged years ago that Israel would ultimately opt for this. Arabs would be expelled from the whole region until the Jordan. And any state trying to prevent it would be threatened with the “Samson option” – not only mutually assured destruction but destruction all around, also of countries not directly involved. This is what Van Creveld said in an interview he gave originally to the the Dutch right of center journal Elsevier in April 2002:

    Speaking about Sharon’s intentions he said:

    “Interviewer: A plan to deport the Palestinians?

    Creveld: I think it’s quite possible that he wants to do that. He wants to escalate the conflict. He knows that nothing else we do will succeed.

    Interviewer: Do you think that the world will allow that kind of ethnic cleansing?

    Creveld: That depends on who does it and how quickly it happens. We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force.

    Interviewer: Wouldn’t Israel then become a rogue state?

    Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” I consider it all hopeless at this point. We shall have to try to prevent things from coming to that, if at all possible. Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.

    Interviewer: This isn’t your own position, is it?

    Creveld: Of course not. You asked me what might happen and I’ve laid it out. The only question is whether it is already too late for the other solution, which I support, and whether Israeli public opinion can still be convinced. I think it’s too late. With each passing day the expulsion of the Palestinians grows more probable. The alternative would be the total annihilation and disintegration of Israel. What do you expect from us?”

    Source: http://www.de.indymedia.o rg/2003/01/39170.shtml

  14. “Destroys” to convey the extent at which Finkelstein’s rebuttal contradicts Friedman’s argument.

    Also, I dislike the man. He euphemizes the destruction of Gaza – civilian infrastructure and civilians – as ‘education’.

    I euphemized Finkelstein’s rebuttal.

    I suppose my problem in this regard *could* be that I am treating the indirect exchange as a sporting event.

    But it was simply to show how well constructed and thorough Norman’s counterargument was.

  15. Boy, how one man can mess up a thread… (I mean Mr. Witty of course).

    In every sane book, “We’ll leave you alone if you leave us alone” would mean that Israel does not meddle with the Gaza-Egypt border at Rafah. It also means that the IDF does not block Gaza’s port, nor its airspace. Both of which can and should be connected to the outside world without infringing upon Israeli territory.

    But the Israeli government’s interpretation of the Tahdiyeh was precisely that it could continue doing that as if it’s the normal state of affairs, and demand something extra – besides “leaving us alone” (which was the Tahdiyeh) – in return for stopping.

    As if anyone could live this way, let alone a 1.5million-person slum.

    Then when all hell breaks loose, our government deceives its own public – and the Western press – about its track record. Unfortunately there is still a lot of gullibility in the world.

  16. Assaf,
    The project on your link is exactly what can improve the world there. It is NOT a statement of contempt of the other, but a statement of actually working to fulfill common need and context.

    It is a different approach than any apology for Hamas shelling civilians.

    The Gaza Egypt border has been closed largely because of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood relations with Egypt. They are committed to opposing organizations that employ terror as a means of dissent.

    The war dance has TWO partners. NOT one. There would be no dance without two.

    In response to inquiries about Hamas’ militant actions, those that have opposed Hamas’ shelling has stated, “I oppose terror, BUT”.

    A more principled approach would be “I oppose terror”. That would facilitate the credibility when applied to criticisms of state forms of terror.

    No “buts”. And then, when NOA says, “I oppose terror”, Richard S can say “I agree”, and move on to “Lets help Palestinian communities, and lets work to stop the settlement expansion, and lets encourage the US to facilitate a fair and just Palestinian state.”

    1. The Gaza Egypt border has been closed largely because of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood relations with Egypt.

      Richard, please, back up this statement with at least one credible source.

  17. No, Witty. You are asking us whether we are or have ever been a ________.

    That’s the feeling at least.

    Opposing terror is a GIVEN.

    The BUT part is to examine the conflict the way it should be – with all violence in context. It doesn’t mean you think some violence is better than others – rather, you reconcile the standards of the day and the intricacies of the ‘why’ that goes into every act. Doing so, gives you understanding.

    You can still disagree with the outcome. But not understanding? Why? Why simply condemning? Why not ask why and compare and contrast? Etc.

    You again, skip the important part of the debate and move on to the trite, comfortable part : the “pro-Peace” camp.

    Funny, how all the ‘pro-Peace’ rallies you take part of are mostly attended by Jews.

    How convenient for you Witty.

    Sanctimonious. That’s what you are.

  18. It seems the comment section on the Noa entry is full, as my attempts to post a reply there don’t show up.

    Anyway, Witty’s last post there was an attempt to compare Gaza’s situation under siege from Israel “to fifty or so land-locked countries that have mutual animosity with each of their adjacent neighbors”, which either proves him woefully ignorant or intentionally disingenuous. Regardless of which is actually the case, either is more than enough to prove his expressed interested in bring a peaceful resolution to this conflict is nothing but farce.

    And Peter D, all one has to do is look at Israel’s blockade of Gaza’s coastline to see Egypt has no more control over their border with Gaza than Israel allows.

  19. Richard Witty,

    Thank you for the compliment on the project, and I’m sorry if I came on too harsh.

    I have never – NEVER – made an apologetic argument excusing terrorism.

    The first major paper to publish an op-ed of mine was Palestinian El-Quds in August 2002. In that op-ed titled “an open letter to the Palestinian people” I told them that if they don’t find an alternative to terrorism as their defining mode of struggle, they are doomed. I also predicted the “Disengagement” charade that happened 3 years later, and how Sharon would so easily become “the good guy in the story” in Western eyes.

    Regarding terrorism, I wrote “as an Israeli I am in no position to judge you. But one crime does not justify the other.” This is still my position.

    Back to dismal 2009: first, you left aside the inconvenient blockade of Gaza’s air and sea. Israel’s government is out of line in enacting it – whether or not world powers give their tacit approval. A two-week closure of the Tiran Straits in 1967 was seen rather universally as an act of war. So is the closure of Gaza – and for that matter, of the West Bank too. The West Bank adjoins Jordan, and ostensibly its inhabitants are led by people acceptable to Israel. Therefore Israel should let them handle their own movement and commerce independently. The fact we got used to it and (to quote the Doron Rosenblum) “America agrees” does not make it right.

    As to Egypt, yes the Egyptian regime is no friend to Hamas. But that’s small change compared with its critical interest in remaining on America’s good books. And remaining on these books means doing what Israel asks. That’s my interpretation, you’re entitled to yours and we can agree to disagree on this point. There is little doubt though, that the interests of the Egyptian people are to have Gaza open for commerce and movements – especially for Egyptians in northern Sinai who could greatly benefit from an open economy there.

    1. The difference between Israel 1967 and Hamas is two-fold.

      The primary difference is that Hamas is not a state and has NO institutions that submit to the international law that governs international ports. They have a history of attempted and actual shipment of weapons through their transport channels which are LEGAL to blockade in circumstances. (I don’t know what they are specifically, so I won’t go so far as to say that the blockade is “ILLEGAL” – without knowing, nor “LEGAL” – without knowing)

      The second difference is that as peer states (both UN member states), when Egypt, Jordan and Syria jointly enacted a blockade of a sovereign state, it had been warned that Israel would interpret that action as an act of war. The ambiguity of the communications process that led to actual war affords an excuse for opportunism on both sides.

      It mirrors the ambiguity of the cease-fire agreement, in which only Egypt representatives actually witnessed to what was agreed. The same Egyptian representatives criticized Hamas in mid-December for not renewing the cease-fire.

      I agree that Egypt is accountable to more than only its own population. Its accountable to the US as you referred, to Israel in being in a peace agreement and near neighbors, Its accountable to other Mediterranean powers in that community. Its accountable to the moderate moneyed Arab leadership. Its accountable to world states through the UN.

      Hamas has never endeavored to admit that it is accountable in multiple respects (not only its relations regarding its direct borders). And, in that way has NOT pursued its own legitimacy in a comprehensive manner.

      The Gazan people are the sufferers.

      I’m personally considering opening a consulting practise. I’ve done informal consulting engagements to help others. But, I’ve never developed the credentials, staff, knowledge, relationships, to offer a comprehensive viable consulting business in the field of my moderate expertise.

      Hamas is further along than I in its field (social service, mediation, law). But, it too has not gone so far as accountability to parties beyond its own common mindset.

      Dissent that apologizes in any way for terror, does NOT serve it, or the Gazan people.

      I actually have a stronger affinity for your project than my earlier comment. In 1996 to 1998, I worked for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association that put on conferences on renewable energy, building science, transportation (technological and social) and other projects. I proposed to a group of its members to facilitate a joint Israeli/Palestinian photovoltaic installation company, jointly funded (majority funding external, matched by some local funding for their personal investment in the project).

  20. “A two-week closure of the Tiran Straits in 1967 was seen rather universally as an act of war.”

    And note that was in response to Yitzhak Rabin’s threat to invade Syria, best I have been able to find wasn’t really ever enforced, and regardless would only block the port at Eliat which handled just a small fraction of Israeli trade anyway. That was all before my time, but in studying the history I don’t see how anyone could reasonable argue that Israel had exhausted diplomatic efforts before resorting to war. Just the other day stumbled across an article published the day before the war from David Astor, and it goes far to reinforcing my opinion:


    As for Egypt’s current position, I gather they negotiated control of the boarder from Israel for the sake of Palestinians, but know they have to control the border to whatever standards Israel sets for them or else suffer the extreme retribution which is Israel’s hallmark.

    1. In a nutshell I agree. But rather than revisit 1967 in detail, I pointed out that then – when convenient – Israel interpreted closure as an act of war. Since 1967, closing the Palestinian has suddenly become a “benign default.”

      As to 1967 in a quick paragraph, quite likely it was possible to avoid the war, and the IDF merely looked for a pretext to “teach the Arabs a lesson.” On the other hand, Nasser was no saint either and his rhetoric was wildly inflammatory and dangerous – he was definitely baiting Israel to go to war. Why he did it knowing the military-power disparity against him? I think he took that secret to his grave.

      1. I figure Nasser along with the other Arab leaders of the region mistakenly believed their combined might was enough to persuade Israel into backing off Syria an resolving the refugee issue though diplomacy. Had he actually wanted to attack, he would never have stopped his tank battalions at the border, and would have had his air force flying over their head instead of sitting on the ground waiting to be bombed. Put simply, Israel called his bluff.

        1. The history of the encounter is longer than that summary.

          War is usually avoidable, if there is a communication between the parties.

          To blame Israel for that mutual ambiguity in a general environment of large-scale military massing (on three prospective military fronts), is opportunistic.

          1. To blame Israel for that mutual ambiguity in a general environment of large-scale military massing (on three prospective military fronts), is opportunistic.

            Unfortunately, given the pattern of Israeli pre-emptive attacks and military doctrine, this is all too typical of Israeli behaviour. I actually don’t blame Israel in the sense that I can’t see how it could do much else. Its lack of strategic depth means that as long as it is committed to aggressive relations with its neighbours it has to attack first and regularly violate international law in order to preserve its territorial integrity.

          2. Of course the history is far more complex than I can rightly be expected to recount here. Feigning otherwise to dismiss my position is opportunistic.

  21. Israel never agreed to end the siege in exchange for a ceasefire but merely to relax it, which it did

    Wrong again on BOTH COUNTS as has been pointed out here.

    The fact that distortions have been repeated on this blog over and over again does not turn them into facts. The record shows that I am correct on both counts.

    Nor lentils, paste or sugar. All key ingredients of explosive devices I suppose.

    These products were allowed in.

    What you mean to say is that Israel wanted the a continuation of peace on the southern front in return for giving nothing of value to Gazans in return.

    No. quiet on Israel’s southern front in exchange for quiet on Gaza’s Northern and Eastern front. Israel is not going to help Hamas arm itself for it to continue its war of terror against Israel. Israel does not inpede humanitatian aid to Gaza as long as the southern front is quiet. And it’s not going to give in to extortion.

    1. The record shows that I am correct on both counts.

      On this blog I & other commenters have provided documentary evidence to support our position. You haven’t. Your claim is hollow.

      These products were allowed in.

      Either you are stupid, misinformed or lying. Pasta was only allowed in when John Kerry raised holy hell & personally called Barak in Tel Aviv railing about the stupidity & capriciousness of Israeli rules. On a conference call only a few days ago with a Jewish peace group, Issac Herzog defended the exclusion of sugar saying it was an ingredient in some explosive devices. So you are wrong, but what else is new?

      Israel does not inpede humanitatian aid to Gaza as long as the southern front is quiet.

      Israel has NO RIGHT whatsoever to lay siege to Gaza, period. It has no right to prevent civilians from entering or leaving the country. It has no right to stop legitimate trade & business contacts. It has no right to prevent the enclave a normal life. There are scores of ways it can prevent Gaza from arming itself that don’t require collective punishment.

      This is a criminal act under international law & you’re aiding & abetting such a crime. As the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court seriously considers a war crimes investigation against Israel bile like yours makes me hope that he does investigate and put some heat on the heartless generals and politicians who masterminded the massacre. You remind me of the guy in the audience at the boxing match who jumps for joy when he see the first blood drawn.

      1. Israel does have a right to manage its borders, and an obligation to protect its civilians from also internationally illegal shelling.

        “Bile like yours”. You similarly assert referring to other assertions as authority, without skepticism.

        It sounds good to the converted, not to the thoughtful. The tone does not give room for question nor for change (in the name of asking for change).

    2. The record shows that I am correct on both counts.

      Yes, if by “record” you mean the stupid brainwash that passes for journalism in Israel nowadays.

      Israel has no right to tell others what comes or does not come into Gaza. Just like no other nation has a right to block other nations and rob their freedom.

      Hamas is arming itself? Well, I’ve heard a strange rumor that to the north and east of Gaza there is a country with one, maybe two guns or so – and it is also arming itself. And guess what – it has used these arms before against civilians. When you live next to an armed bully, you want to arm yourself too. This is a fact of life. Or maybe Palestinians should trust Israeli goodwill or the international community to protect them?

      True, Hamas has done a lousy job of protecting Palestinians or caring for their interest, but the basic Palestinian wish to be armed in the reality they are facing – is really not hard to understand, and impossible to deny.

      Maybe when we get that into our thick heads, we may have real security again.

      1. Arming is the Pandora’s Box. There is a reason that modern political theory affords a monopoly on force to states.

        Hamas is not one of them. It maybe is in transition, but it is in a web. It has antagonistic relations with EVERY entity that it needs to have collaborative relations with, in order to fulfill its responsibilities as a prospective state.

        Its in our “thick heads” that the status of Palestinian life needs to improve. Its in my thick head that war represents a failure.

        That is NOT Hamas’ logic historically, or recently. And that is a great contributor to its large failures. It does regard warring as a just means of dissent.

        “Enough is enough” is the relevant phrase. Any enabling of Hamas to continue even allowing shelling from Gaza onto Israeli civilians, is a crime a daily continuing crime.

        There is no guarantee what Israel’s response will be if/when Hamas relents on its warring actions. But, it is wrong to do, wrong to do daily. And, that is a risk that Hamas must take to get to any credibility that it NEEDS. It cannot be in a situation in which it requires external solidarity support backed by adrenaline-heightened external military support to conduct its international affairs.

        It must develop its own good international and other relations, even in this less than just world.

        1. Witty,

          Looking at the cumulative body of your comments, you are going far out on a limb here.

          On one hand you blame all those who fault Israel for its actions, as “apologists for Hamas”. Besides being flat-out wrong about (at least) Silverstein, myself and others here, this is a classic right-wing diversionary and shut-your-face tactic. You just cloak it in more polite style.

          Yet, on the other hand, while professing enlightened views such as “war is a failure”, “Palestinian life needs to improve”, etc. etc. – somehow all this Enlightment stops short of placing any – ANY – accountability whatsoever on Israel’s leadership. A leadership, mind you, that has something to do with the lousy Palestinian quality of life – and this “something” goes back not to December 2008 but to before 1948. And – let’s not forget – a leadership that does not seem to believe that “war is a failure.”

          In other words, you are a – admittedly, very sophisticated, very progressive, very mild-mannered, and so on – apologist for Occupation.

          (a word which you’d probably place in quotation marks anyway)

          As such, with all the nice potential regarding collaboration on alt-energy ventures, and the obvious need for financial support for such projects – if the organization you’re affiliated with pushes the same kind of line you’re pushing here, we’d be idiots to take a single penny from it.

          Happy Purim, Assaf

          1. Its not my “right-wing” tactic.

            I’m on record (as Silverstein should be aware if he reads Mondoweiss or Realistic Dove), of favoring the Arab League proposal nearly literally, of supporting a limited right of Palestinian return, of overturning the 1950’s Israeli laws that functionally prohibited the right of return and the day in court for Palestinians.

            What he and you don’t accept is my avoidance of the left-wing ritual dance, requiring condemnation of Israel in every respect, as a prerequisite for credibility.

            I’m appalled by violence. But, I read and widely, so I note that cause is not so simplistic.

            In describing Hamas, I am describing REALISM. The reality is that Hamas led Gaza will delay otherwise possible reconciliation by a decade (acknowledging the very large disappointments historically), because they will NEVER talk directly to each other. (Hamas won’t talk directly to Israel because it implies validity of Zionism. Israel won’t talk directly to Hamas because implies acquiescence to their terror.)

            It is real. To contest that statement is denial. Its a statement of what “should be” (not even) rather than what is, and therefore what is possible.

            If you want ANY possibility of the status of Gazans to improve, you will communicate to Hamas and other factions that the militant effort is a deterrent.

            THAT will call Israel’s bluff. Right now, Hamas is playing into the Israeli right-wing’s hands. They elected Netanyahu. The effect of Hamas shelling was nearly certainly at least a ten seat swing to the right, and you know it well.

            They have a great deal of influence over what occurs. Historically, that influence was only capable of stopping otherwise hopeful efforts. Currently, they have to make the transition to responsible governance.

            Its the same status as when they won the parliamentary elections, and shared government portfolios with Fatah. They refused the concept of continuity of law and treaty, and gradually undertook a military coup. Even if in response to an attempted coup by factions of Fatah, it still remains a one-party state that periodically summary executes leaders of the opposing party.

            Wishing doesn’t change the need for Hamas to change, if anything is to move forward at all.

          2. “Yet, on the other hand, while professing enlightened views such as “war is a failure”, “Palestinian life needs to improve”, etc. etc. – somehow all this Enlightment stops short of placing any – ANY – accountability whatsoever on Israel’s leadership. ”

            That is an excellent summary of Witty’s views as expressed here. You hand him an opening when you then call him an apologist for the Occupation, because he can then honestly claim that he favors a two state solution that is fair to both sides. The problem, though, is what you pointed out in the quote above–he puts all the blame for the lack of that solution on Hamas and very little on Israel–to the extent that he criticizes Israel at all, it’s in the softest of terms. When they kill Palestinian civilians, it is the fault of Hamas. Witty wants everyone here to recognize that Hamas is guilty of murder, which is fine with me–they are–but he will not admit the same is true of Israel and on a much larger scale.

  22. Its in my thick head that war represents a failure.

    If you believe this you had better start to worry because the Israeli state is in this case designed for failure.

  23. My first point: Israel never agreed to end the siege in exchange for a ceasefire but merely to relax it.
    The economist June 18, 2008:

    According to reports, the two sides agreed to start with three days of calm. If that holds, Israel will allow some construction materials and merchandise into Gaza, slightly easing an economic blockade

    From Henry Siegman (i think you featured this article which is a bunch of distortions and propaganda but I use it for this point because it’s the kind of source you would accept and not label zionist propaganda)

    Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza.

    My second point – Israel did relax the embargo. These are the numbers. Pecentages refers to percent of imports from all terminals relative two the two prior years.
    January 2008 14%
    February 2008 16%
    March 2008 26%
    April 2008 21%
    May 2008 17%
    June 2008 20%
    July 2008 50% (more than double with Tahadiyah)
    August 2008 34%
    September 39%
    October 2008 27%
    And the crossings would have been more active if Hamas had lived up to its end of the deal and prevented the other terrorist groups from firing rockets into Israel not to mention mortars at the crossings themselves which they claimed to want open.

    1. This hardly provides any support for yr claim.

      I’m saying that truces have been negotiated in the past in which lifting the siege was part of the deal, though of course Israel never honored its part of the deal. Here is a quote regarding negotations for the June, 2008 ceasefire which, after it began, Israel violated last November in the run up to Operation Cast Lead:

      “All the Palestinian factions have agreed to the Egyptian proposal on a truce with Israel,” MENA said, citing an unnamed high-level Egyptian official.

      The official said the proposal included a “comprehensive, reciprocal and simultaneous truce, implemented in a graduated framework starting in the Gaza Strip and then subsequently moving to the West Bank,” MENA added.

      MENA said the proposal was part of a broader plan eventually leading to the lifting of the blockade which Israel, with Egyptian help, has imposed on Gaza since last June

      Wikipedia further confirms this:

      Under a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in June 2008, Israel agreed to lift its blockade. However, Israel mostly maintained it. By August 2008, Israel was still allowing in very few goods.

      And if you think that Henry Siegman really believes that Israel had not committed itself to lift the siege you need to have yr head examined. The phrase “easing its throttlehold” is not very precise and certainly can mean “lifting the siege,” which is I’m certain what he actually believes.

      As for relaxing the embargo, I’m wholly uninterested in this concept. Ending the siege. That’s all I’m interested in. Letting in 100 trucks a day instead of none does nothing to solve the problem esp. when the UN says that a minimum of 500 trucks per day is necessary to maintain minimal nutritional & living standards. I want an unlimited number of trucks allowed to cross the border as long as they do not smuggle in weapons or parts for producing them.

      1. This will be my last comment on this thread (unless you reply with something really outrageous)
        – The key word in the first quote you provided is “eventually”
        – Wikipedia is not a reliable source in this case. It has a reference for your quote to a BBC article which says “A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas two months ago was meant to lead to the easing of restrictions“. It’s always best not to rely on wikipedia but rather go to the source they are quoting. In this case the source supports me.
        – I believe that Siegman’s command of the English language is probably at a level where he writes what he means to write.
        – As far as I know you were not party to the agreement so that what you want is irrelevant to the argument we are having. For your information I also want for Gaza to have free trade and commerce. Eventually.

  24. “You remind me of the guy in the audience at the boxing match who jumps for joy when he see the first blood drawn.”

    Actually I’m quite distraught by the whole situation. I really don’t recall expressing any glee in my comments.

  25. LD,
    I’m commenting, respectfully and coherently, with minor grammatical slips.

    I’m HERE is all. Live with it.

    You should take my suggestion about objecting to terror. When the Bush administration and others adopted the “war on terror” as their primary agenda, the left should have said “YES, We OPPOSE terror.”

    Instead, applying the romantic notion of innocent “David”‘s, the left sided with the “underdogs” (even as the reality represented a game of GO, with apparent victor in a small pond, loser in a big one, and winner in a bigger one, and loser in a bigger one).

    It could have taken a principled approach that would give validity to its objections to state terror. It didn’t and as such is dismissed, voiceless.

    Assaf’s type of work is THE work to do, the most important thing to focus on. The frustrations associated certainly will illustrate injustices, and suggest solidarity work. But, compared to practical improvements and genuine collaboration (FACTS on the ground), solidarity work will end up nearly a waste of time, a delay. Even, if the collaborative work has strange bed-fellows (say right-wing settlers innovating with photovoltaics and organics collaborating with Palestinian farmers).

    The other importance of those facts on the ground, are that an entirely new population of individuals and communities will ON THE GROUND stand up to Israeli efforts to cut Palestinians’ olive groves for example.

    Loving OUR Land, will come to be interpreted in the usage of the term “our” of dear, rather than the usage of owned.

  26. Yes Witty. You ARE here – AND trolling.

    You manage to continue writing a lot without saying very much.

    Pure Claptrap.

    Your arguments are just weak.

  27. Please avoid the “circle the wagons” approach.

    How do you see this playing out?

    What plausible goal do you pursue?

  28. I wish Witty would shut up for a while. About 20 % of the comments on this thread are by him. Other contributors are responsible for his verbosity as well because they keep trying to disentangle and respond to his ‘arguments’.

    And since W. recycles the same set of these, regardless of the response he receives, he monopolizes a good deal of the conversation on almost any thread he contributes to – and that without actually saying very much.

    1. Arie,

      I agree and my post below is the last reply to Witty.

      I am not a regular reader of comments here so was not aware that he is a serial one.

      From my perspective it was important “for posterity”, i.e., for other future readers, to explain why such a rhetorical line which claims some moral higher-ground, is really hollow and dishonest.

      Will refrain from extending the thread so much in the future…

    2. Richard: I’m afraid by popular acclamation I’m instituting a daily comment limit for you: no more than 2 per day. I agree with the other posters that you bloviate endlessly, have huge amts. of time on yr hands, never really listen to anything said to you, & are abusing the comment threads. So you’re hereby limited to no more than 2 comments per day. I’ll also be moderating yr comments until I see that you’re honoring this request.

      And no, you aren’t the first person for whom I’ve had to do this. There have been right-wing commenters here who’ve posted 8-10 comments in a single day & done this multiple times. I’ve limited them as well.

      I will try my very best also to honor Arie’s request that we disengage from Richard.

  29. Witty,

    My family and social circle in Israel is full of people who in principle have the most enlightened views. But when push comes to shove it’s always the Arabs’ fault.

    And there is always some mythical, a-historical enemy out there, an enemy that would yield to no reason and will never change – except by being beaten thoroughly enough.

    Or (if there is not some war smouldering somewhere) the Arabs need to become more civilized before any progress can be made. So the ball (always, always, always) is only on their court. No ball to be found on the Israeli court, never.

    I have also encountered a fair share of such American Jews, of course.

    Perhaps you won’t admit it, but you fit perfectly into that group.

    If it is the ground you are interested in, then I’ve got news from the ground for you. On the ground there is no settler-Palestinian collaboration which you so cheerfully suggest, because the settlers are on top as bosses, land-thieves and otherwise. Can there be true collaboration between omni-powerful master and rightless underling?
    In most places the ground situation is outright war, with settlers as the primary aggressors and the IDF and police do their bidding, blatantly and shamefully so. And the more moderate among the settlers always – invariably – “circle the wagons” as you call it, to protect the actions of the more extreme ones. Why won’t you read the Villages Group blog posts and get some idea about what’s going on there.

    Beyond that, I seriously find it troubling that you are not able to level a single word of meaningful criticism at Israel’s action. As if it is simply unrelated to anything; only Hamas is always the issue, never Israeli policies. To the point of euphemistically calling the Gaza war “the Hamas shelling”, even though 99.9% (probably more) of the shelling was done by the IDF.


    Anyway, I’m tired of this strange dialogue. In my view you are either being dishonest with us or with yourself. I have actually heard and read that the new Hasbara schtick in “reaching out” to Western progressives, is to be friendly and appear to be on their side. So I suspect the former (you’re dishonest with us) rather than the latter (with yourself).
    In any case, it is not that your views don’t feel into any clear box – they are very clearly in the pro-Occupation box, but you wrap them in peaceful-sounding lip service.

    — over and out —

    1. The balls are in both courts.

      The left concludes that the ball is only in Israeli.

      How did you conclude that a political approach was the only feasible? Why did you give up on earnestly attempting to convince Israelis that there were other options?

      Why do you think that Israeli politics shifted so rightward?

      Do you think Hamas behavior had ANY impact on that?

      I assume that all assertions are partially true, partially relevant, and therefore the important political information to discern is to what extent, in what context, towards identifying what conditions could make a change?

      Do you have a clear strategy for achieving peace in the region, or is peace in the region not a goal of yours? (Perhaps preferring the question to revolve around “justice” solely?)

  30. Witty this isn’t a movie or a song. We’re not interpreting a piece of art.

    I mean, there IS room for interpreting BUT it has a much lower threshold.

    And within the threshold are plenty of facts.

    It’s not that I’m dismissing your ideas – it’s that you don’t seem to have many.

    That’s my opinion. I apologize for the insults.

  31. I wish Witty would shut up for a while. About 20 % of the comments on this thread are by him. Other contributors are responsible for his verbosity as well because they keep trying to disentangle and respond to his ‘arguments’.

    And since W. recycles the same set of these, regardless of the response he receives, he monopolizes a good deal of the conversation on almost any thread he contributes to – and that without actually saying very much.

    Arie Brand is spot on; I have noticed this trend as well. It wouldn’t matter so much if something relevant was being discussed but every thread now veers into a generalised topics about how the talk about the IP conflict, why we need to condemn violence, which side is more moral etc.etc. It doesn’t cover new ground and very little of it is relevant to Richard Silverstein’s original posts.

    Arie’s solution is also sound, which I will now be following.

  32. My understand is that Witty is an acquaintance of Phil Weiss? They went to high school together? In any case, I think I’ll stop replying to Witty as well.

  33. Witty is alright. He is a thinker, sometimes poorly, other times quite sharp. There are far worse out there, just check Phil’s blog. Even at Fleshler’s blog, he criticises Y Ben-David a numerous amount of times.

    To Richard (Silverstein),

    I remember reading Moshe Sharrett’s diary, which was published as Israel’s Sacred Terrorism, and Livia Rokach perfectly laid it out that Israel’s own leaders are the ones who damn themselves with their words (that’s not verbatim). Barak did it before Camp David (“I would have joined a terrorist group.”); Sharon did it with his re-invasion of the West Bank; Begin did it; Rabin did it; Meir did it; Ben-Gurion did it; Eshkol did it. They ALL do it.

    1. Witty is alright. He is a thinker,

      hmmm… I’m not convinced. Let’s revisit this thread: Richard S. wrote an entry about a catfight within Israel’s lame-duck cabinet, which revealed that a ceasefire ostensibly acceptable for Israel has been possible even before the war – and surely since it.

      Witty shows up from comment #2, first pretending to demand an intellectual higher ground –

      What were the SPECIFIC terms of the cease-fire renewal

      etc. After a bit of such posturing, he comes out in more true colors and manages to engage almost everyone else by pissing them off. At bottom line his elaborations revolve around two major messages:

      1. That Richard S. and anyone who agrees with him are terror apologists in general and Hamas supporters in particular.
      2. That anyone interested in the situation should focus exclusively on Hamas and devote no attention to Israeli actions, motives and decision processes.

      As far as I can see, this is standard Hasbara fare, only dressed up in good manners and cloaked in a more sophisticated smoke-and-mirrors display.

      I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Mr. Witty is a lawyer by training. Grant him this: he’s good enough to take Mark Regev’s position (given how lousy Regev has been lately, that’s not a big compliment).

      I actually prefer more bullish types who are at least more honest in a way. Then you know to steer clear of them, or – if you have the power – to ban them from the site.

      1. Assaf,
        You do exactly what you accuse me of. You blame first, investigate later.

        Asking what the specific terms of the Hamas reputed cease-fire renewal offer was is an important clarification (never offered), as it is a relevant question as to whether that proposal was sincere, proposing reasonable conditions, or proposing intentionally unreasonable conditions.

        Its important to remain skeptical, to not assume what you’ve been told, in order to find out the accurate data, and to think through the significance of that data.

        Proposing banning someone from a site, or even proposing to ignore them entirely, is not all that different in the field of discussion from a blockade.

        I assert that the left still does not know what Hamas is about, what it is committed to, what it even might change to. Its likely that they don’t know either. And, therefore there is a wide range of opinion even among those that are critical of Israel.

        The problem is that that is an important question. Its NOT ENOUGH now to just be critical of Israel. The left is up to the next step. How do we actually make a change? And, the change that we are able to make, is it a change that we want to happen?

        If Hamas has not abandoned its preference for terror as a means (for whatever reason), then I have MISGIVINGS about supporting a position that encourages it or firms its power.

        (I know that Israel’s military responses suggest that Hamas is good, which I agree to, still noting that I don’t know what other alternative would change things in a positive direction.)

        That is why I suggest that the left take the position “WE OPPOSE TERROR”, rather than we oppose only what is described as state terror.

        Even if its only a tactic for the left, it would accomplish the same PR appeal as pro-Israel rallies only referring to peace.

        Much better that both be sincere, but the left now is being sold a bridge. (The metaphor still applies.) Its also selling itself a bridge, by attempting to “protect itself” from opinions that differ in focus from the politically correct.

  34. “My family and social circle in Israel is full of people who in principle have the most enlightened views. But when push comes to shove it’s always the Arabs’ fault. ”

    This is why I’ve come to the conclusion that the BDS movement is necessary bring peaceful resolution to this conflict. The apartheid of South Africa demanded such methods for the exact same reason, apartheid supporters would always talk about the need to improve conditions, but ignored their role as the dominate power instead putting the onus on blacks.


  35. Assaf, I am definitely no apologist for Witty. Trust me, I have danced the dance with him over in other blogs. He is correct in many approaches that everyone has to be spoken to here, even though he seems to have the highest standard appropriated for Hamas than he does for Israel despite the fact that he insists that there are TWO sides who need to want to reconcile here. He determines with his own logic (which is quite confusing sometimes) that Hamas is the one that needs to prove its intent. (Mind you, this is all just on the basis of the few comments that I peruse of his. He seems to insist that in order to debate his views, we must take into account EVERYTHING he has posted about the subject ie Hamas. Like anyone has that amount of time to read how many blogs and how many comments that he shoots off. Perhaps a better suggestion would be for him to start his own blog and then maybe other commenters can deconstruct every piece of “nuance” that he advocates.)

    From his comments (because that’s all we can muster) he has indicated that he has been involved in peace politics, mostly Israeli and some Palestinian. I remember he was disgusted at some pro-Palestinian marches because the message was really a zero-sum game: for Palestine only, if not then you are an Israeli apologist. That’s a tough message to give, especially those who are in two minds about how to go about on this issue and I understand his dismay as a Zionist who identifies with Israel and yet does feel compelled that something is not quite right. (I also remember that he calls the occupation a “mistake” and that there is no oppression there. Huh?)

    Assaf, you may like the “bullies”, but there really is no debating them. (Again, browse Phil’s blog.) Witty does attempt a differing viewpoint, and like it or not, everyone really does have an opinion here, even Witty, and even those who think like him are out there in organisations working for peace (or so-called peace) in the US.

    He still refuses to recognise said points, but that’s his problem. It’s not my job to beat it into him.

  36. You are so dishonest Witty.

    You extol the virtues of skepticism with your usual ‘sincerity’.


    Assaf, read Witty’s posts and you’ll get the idea where he’s coming from. Pay attention to his rhetoric.

    Read the story he told us all on Phil’s blog about his nice dinner with the nice proper Jewish family. The sad sad story about how the nice proper Jewish daughter has gone to the Right due to those pesky Palestinian activists and their ‘radicalism’.

    He is as much a troll as the Chris Berels/SoGs/Suzannes/etc.

    In fact, he’s much more of a troll than those other guys since he is far more subtle. Sometimes his mask slips. Lately, he’s been unusually transparent:

    “nail-studded sucide belts”

    Witty is about as intellectually honest as Caroline Glick. There is a reason people are consistently upset with him. Because they take the time to read his garbage. It’s subtle, so you don’t tend to pass it like you would by the more vulgar Zionists on Phil’s blog.

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