135 thoughts on “Danny Zamir, Convenor of IDF Soldiers Testifying About Gaza Abuse, is Himself Abused – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. The Israel army is as moral as the US army were in Fallujah, Baghdad, Basra, the highways from hell and atrocities too numerous to count in over 60 countries since WW11 but Israeli’s have an entirely different problem.

    The US does charge those who commit murder.

  2. Mr. Silverstein says: “In truth, and this is a weakness of Zamir’s approach, he is less interested in the question of whether the war should have been fought than in HOW that war was fought. ”

    I disagree. He has good points about strengthening democracy through the review of IDF actions. It highlights an important issue. It is the job of the political system to decide if war is needed. It the job of the military to execute the war within the rules of engagement its society agrees to and sets out. (To function well, military personnel should not have the habit of questioning their orders.) It is up to the electorate of a democracy to question the integrity of the question to go to war and the norms of engagement its military uses.

    So, I disagree because I think it should have been the mass electorate that should be concerned with the “whether the war should have been fought”.

    We are our struggling with such dilemmas in the Iraq war, whether we should have attacked, and questions of conduct. It is the electorate that has been making the normative calls, and the military responded by releasing new handbooks, and the political system changes were only after they were penalized by voters.

    1. “To function well, military personnel should not have the habit of questioning their orders.” On the Contrary. Military personnel should not be put in a position were they feel compelled to challenge their orders. If the orders are unlawful, they most definitely should be challenged and obstructed. In Israel’s case soldiers now face the additional hurdle of orders which are clearly ‘lawful’ (in Israeli terms) but equally clearly immoral. In my view the appropriate response to this is also refusal.
      Since the Gaza ‘war’ was fought primarily to impress the electorate, it seems more than a little optimistic to hope that the same electorate would deprecate it. I have little doubt that had the Iraq War been a success the electorate would have rewarded rather than punished the party responsible for it.
      The US military was just about the only restraint on the martial lawlessness of the previous US administration. The military was put in the bizarre position of trying to restrain the excesses of its own civilian leadership. I don’t see any sign of the IDF exercising any restraint. If they are it isn’t having any marked effect on the ground. Occupation and suppression will inevitably create moral problems which the IDF has chosen to deal with by pretending the problems aren’t there or aren’t problems. It is not possible to run a moral occupation for longer than the lifetime of most Israelis and Palestinians. If the IDF had behaved ethically it would not have been able to suppress the mostly non violent 1st Intifada.
      The ‘how’ is inextricably connected to the ‘whether’!

      1. Mr. Stuart,

        You say, “On the Contrary. Military personnel should not be put in a position were they feel compelled to challenge their orders. ” I agree with this. But, democracy is a strange system. It is not perfect, it is reactive. More often than not, it constrains the state apparatus after the fact of indiscretion.

        I agree that for the most part, what kept Iraq from being as bad as it could been is the code of honor of our military. We still had incidents like Abu Gharaib. First the fact that it was leaked through our military shows our military was uncomfortable with this conduct. The fact that these stories are leaked from the IDF shows they are uncomfortable with the conduct asked of them.

        The difference in the 2 cases is the level of public out cry in the USA. We were outraged. The Israeli public has become apathetic. Still, it is the electorates job to indicate it is inappropriate behavior for the social norms of the society.

        If it is the military’s job to challenge the questions of going to war, and not the electorate, then what prevents a military coup, or military rule if they don’t like the answer of the electorate of the government? The military is a tool of the executive, but must remain at some level independent in a democracy to allow the democracy to function. (That independence also gives it the ability to cultivate the norms you stated above.) IMHO

        1. I’m not sure we are disagreeing.
          Certainly in the British forces it is illegal to obey an unlawful order: So soldiers have a lawful duty to refuse orders to, for example, attack parliament, or execute or mistreat prisoners.
          My central point is that the occupation and siege cannot be sustained by ‘moral’ soldiers.

  3. The public is whipped up about their own security (as if unrelated to others) and then supports any and all nasty means that have been or will be proven ultimately unsuccessful time and again. (Part of, a majority of )the public and leadership, mutually reenforce the elevation of this idea over moral behavior. And if the public reacts in shock to the revelations, or wishes them suppressed, it’s always after the fact;they did not really know or understand what they were supporting. Or they don’t want to know. Whatever it takes is justified.

    That morality is strength, or an effective means, seems to be, more and more, a foreign idea.

  4. When did the rot start?

    For several decades after its foundation Israel maintained an image attractive to leftists all over the world. It seemed a leftist democracy unfairly set upon by its neighbours. That Palestinians were driven out, rather than had gone voluntarily as the official myth had it, was kept successfully hidden.

    But it was not just the post June 1967 occupation that led to the coarsening of moral standards in the IDF and Israeli society as a whole, though it has immensely aggravated this. I think that any society that makes of its military a central institution, as Israel has, is prone to the same malaise. Germany provides a clear example.

    Tony Judt who was a convinced Zionist in his adolescence (he was for a while the national secretary of the British Zionist youth organisation DROR) found already more than forty years ago that the IDF had started to suffer from this disease.

    From the Guardian 5/17/2008:

    “Having taken his first set of exams at Cambridge, Judt left again for the kibbutz Machanaim with the six-day war pending and, in response to a call for volunteers from the Israeli army, became a driver and then a translator, joining the forces based on the Golan Heights: “I was 19 and romantic,” he recalls.

    But his views on Israel soon began to change. “I started to hear things, in the attitude of young officers above all, that I had never heard before, expressions of nationalism, anti-Arab xenophobia, land hunger – ‘why didn’t we go all the way to Damascus?’, ‘the only good Arab is a dead Arab’ – that sort of thing.” The “conquistador attitude in Israeli officers”, Judt says, “gave the lie to the idea that there was something special about this war, this occupation, this army – myths that many Israelis still believe in … By the time I went back to Cambridge at the end of the summer, I was already pretty critical of Israel: it was clear in my mind that the huge acquisition of land and people as a result of the war wasn’t going to work. What kind of Jewish state was this?” ”

    The answer is now for many Israelis too terrible to listen to. So they don’t.

    1. Alex, this is outrageous. You & I both know that the charge is that Hamas deliberately uses unwilling Palestinians as human shields to prevent the IDF from attacking. The idea that Palestinians who willingly mount a friend’s roof to defend him from Israel attack are called human shields is ridiculous. These are people who are fighting on behalf of the victim. They are not dragooned against their will into anything.

      Not to mention that the examples of Israelis using Palestinian human shields are much more blatant. They actually use small children who they force to accompany them into dangerous situations in which the child could easily be injured or killed. And they do this on a regular basis. THIS is the use of human shields.

    2. You could not have picked a more crass example than this which was a triumph of non violent resistance.

    3. Well, I have to agree with Richard and Miles, Alex, this one is one hell of an example to bring! The whole “idea” of human shields as propagated by the Israeli PR machine is that terrorists come to shoot rockets (or whatever) as Israel from within populated areas so that Israel won’t target them or, if it would, then at least a lot of innocent civilians would die and cause a PR black-eye to Israel. In this case Israel actually came to execute one of its notorious “targeted assassinations” which are just criminal murders without trial (remember, they were supposed to be against “ticking bombs”, which quickly started to include paraplegic old people.) It makes me sick to the stomach.
      Finally, suppose there were genuine cases of Hamas (or whoever) using human shields. Now what? Can we do anything about it? Can anybody do anything about it? So, why waste breath? I’ll tell you why: because it takes pressure off of Israel. Now we actually could do something about Israel’s behavior! We could apply this same pressure, that all this talk of Hamas and human shields is designed to thwart, so that innocent Gazan children are not blown to pieces int he hands of their mothers.

  5. Well I don’t live in Gaza so can’t be as confident as you that people do this stuff so willingly. I think, in this sense, your pieces would benefit from a touch more agnosticism. But don’t you think Amnesty carefully choose their words before writing their reports? Or are you calling their claims outrageous? And if Hamas fire from civilian houses, does that not also constitute the use of human shields? There’s more than enough allegations from other sources, btw, all over the net, which I’m sure you must have seen, but I know that you don’t accept the ‘just because the telegraph says it doesn’t mean it’s wrong principle’ and that the bar is always higher when asked to produce evidence of Hamas wrongdoing. Needless to say first-hand testimony is enough for you when the accuser is a Palestinian. So if we are going to continue discussions about evidence etc we need to produce some ground-rules that apply equally to all sides. It would be a worthy endeavour for all bloggers dealing with IP, btw, and I’d be happy to work with you to draw something up.

    1. Did you read the report that YOU linked to? Which said explicitly that the would be victim asked his friends to join him on his roof and that they willingly did so. Might I ask you actually to read the sources you use in trying to defend your point?

      As for the Amnesty report to which you linked–while there are numerous examples of IDF use of human shields & violations of civilians’ rights, there is only one instance of a Hamas violation mentioned. It claims that Hamas used a civilian home to fire at the IDF.

      I don’t know that I’d call this use of a human shield. I would however ask you if you were fighting a guerilla war in a densely populated urban zone, how you would do so WITHOUT using civilian facilities as part of your war-fighting tactics? Besides, the fact that thousands of Israeli soldiers fought a war largely housed in the homes of Gazan civilians sort of blows that whole Hamas violation out of the water.

      1. While the article spoke of Hamas using a civilian home, it doesn’t say (and I don’t know either) if there actually were any civilian *persons* in the home at the time. That’s not nitpicking on my part, “human shields” by definition require the presence of human beings after all.
        If there were civilians present, we don’t know if the Hamas men kept them there against their will. If not, it may have been reckless and irresponsible to use the home, bad enough, but still in another league than taking civilians hostage at gunpoint.

  6. Alex, you really do need to actually read the reports instead of the headline.

    Israel claimed over and over again that they had to kill civilians in Lebanon in 2006 because they were being used as human shields by Hezbollah. It simply was not the truth and not one investigation found one case and in that instance world wide journalists were crawling all over the place, when Israel was not firing on them.

    Here in Australia jewish and muslim Lebanese took their own film and showed without a doubt that in Ait Auroun where the IDF said the rockets were being fired from the village they were a good kilometre away but the IDF blasted the centre of the village and demolished it anyway.

    They used phosphorous then as well you know.

  7. The question is not whether Hamas or Israel uses human shields.

    At times both have done so. Although I’d like to see more reports of Hamas using human shields to understand the context/etc.

    I’ve seen plenty of reports on Israel using human shields and even fighting an Israeli Supreme Court ban on the tactic.

    In fact, Israel has throughout it’s history legalized a lot of the behavior (such as kidnapping) that it accuses the Palestinians of doing.

    Alex Stein is pathetic and employs the same pathetic allegations.

    Why is it pathetic? Well, let’s ask ourselves the pertinent question.

    It’s not whether either side does this stuff – we know that at the very least, they’ve both done it ONCE. Beyond that, we must ask ourselves how often they use human shields in relation to the civilian casualties.

    So the common hasbara rebuttal/talking point that Stein has employed is to bring up this use of human shields by Hamas, whenever the dissident will bring up the high civilian death tolls in all of Israel’s massacres.

    “But Hamas uses human shields. Israel drops leaflets and lets in [this is the part where the Zionist will list off all the different supplies Israel allows into Palestine. Now only an idiot would look at this list and think it constitutes ‘sufficient’ aide. Why? Because it only physically LOOKS that way. It will fill up your page, no doubt. But the appearance of this list filling up your computer screen does NOT parallel the REALITY. The reality being that during 2007, Israel allowed 500 trucks of supplies daily into Gaza. Let’s use that as a rule of thumb. During the lull, which Israel’s MFA report acknowledged as being a ‘quiet’ via Hamas’s ‘careful’ attention to maintain their terms, only 120-130 supplies were allowed in.].”

    So the question that is important is about DEGREE in relation to the civilian deaths.

    Now, as a related issue, just look at the US Army War College report or the Human Rights Watch report assessing the 2006 Lebanon War.

    HRW: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2008/02/16/flooding-south-lebanon

    US Army War College: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB882.pdf

    Focus on the US Army War College report. CRTL+F and type in “little or no meaningful intermingling”.

    Read this area and onward to understand the human shields situation. Hezbollah, according to the US Army, did not use human shields. Overwhelmingly, most of them wore distinct uniforms that undoubtedly separated them from civilians. Their uniforms were described as being that of an official army.

    So, this human shields business is purely rhetorical. It’s about “point scoring.” Jewish groups in the US – in the vein of StandWithUs – issue these Hasbara strategies for young Jews to use in debates. They stress that it’s more important to ‘score points’ – that is, focus on superficial truths and emotional rhetoric that can pull an audience (that mostly won’t pay close attention) toward ‘your side’.

    So pathetic Alex Stein is just employing standard hasbara talking points.

    Human shields.

    Similar to Witty and his dishonest rhetoric.

    “nail-studded suicide belts”

    “murderous rocket attacks”


    Etc. etc.

    They count on people being uninformed. They count on you not recognizing that debate is as much about HOW you PRESENT your argument as it is about the plain truth.

  8. LD the article you quote specifically says that Hizballah “made extensive use of civilian homes as direct fire combat positions and to conceal launchers for rocket fire into Israel. Yet the villages Hezbollah used to anchor its defensive system in southern Lebanon were largely
    evacuated by the time Israeli ground forces crossed the
    border on July 18″ This is exactly the claim Israel makes. I never heard any Israeli Hasbara claiming that Hizballah forced civilians to stay in their homes during the ground assault. Alex Stein makes some very good points. You’re the one that’s pathetic.

    1. Nope. Nice try though amir. I know you foam at the mouth at the chance to find legitimate proof that your hasbara bullshit is backed up by facts.

      “IDF participants consistently report little or no meaningful intermingling of Hezbollah fighters and noncombatants. Nor is there any systematic reporting of Hezbollah using civilians in the combat zone as shields. The fighting in southern Lebanon was chiefly urban, in the built-up areas of the small to medium-size villages and towns typical of the region. But it was not significantly intermingled with a civilian population that had fled by the time the ground fighting began. Hezbollah made very effective use of local cover and concealment (see below), but this was obtained almost entirely from the terrain—both natural and man-made.”

      From the US Army War College report. Puts things into context.

      You fail, yet again. Try harder.

      Holocaust/nazi/antisemite/hitler! oh noes!

      1. “a civilian population that had fled by the time the
        ground fighting began

        The Hizballah hid its weapons and launchers among the civilian population which had fled by the time the ground assault began. This is exactly what Israel claims and which your own sources support.
        Why is it that leftists always have to use personal attacks when arguing. Silly me, it’s because their argument is lame.

        1. Haha. God you’re petty.

          That’s what your clinging on to? It doesn’t substantiate Israel’s claims. And even the next sentence offers more evidence that Hezbollah took care to avoid civilian intermingling.

          Ya, you’re pathetic. Keep trying scumbag.

  9. Alex said “There’s more than enough allegations from other sources, btw, all over the net”. The key word is ‘allegations’. The IDF can film any part of Gaza in as much detail as they like any time they like. The paucity of actual evidence of Hamas’ use of human shields is highly indicative of a paucity of offence. On the other hand we know for absolute damn certain sure that the IDF routinely uses Palestinians as human shields.
    In all of this Alex misses a simple point. The Hamas fighters were NOT attacking or occupying Gaza, they were DEFENDING it.
    I really think Amnesty International have made a colossal error in trying to demonstrate impartiality by being even handed. It is as preposterous as condemning the defenders of the Warsaw ghetto for firing from civilian homes.
    There is something else that might be worth IDF apologists pondering. I recently read a report of a Palestinian ambulance driver called to a house where he found 3 uninjured but terrified gunmen. They demanded he remove them in the ambulance which he refused to do and he then departed leaving them behind. The obvious question which arises is “why did they not just surrender to ‘the most moral army in the world’?” Probably not a question you want to pose to their grieving relatives!

  10. “The Hamas fighters were NOT attacking or occupying Gaza, they were DEFENDING it.” – How? By hiding in their bunkers leaving the civilians above to fend for themselves. Waiting for it all to end so they can declare their victory.
    Comparing Hamas to the Warsaw ghetto fighters just shows how loony the left has become.

    1. By hiding in their bunkers leaving the civilians above to fend for themselves.

      And how were those 300 Gaza resistance fighters killed during the war? Did they suffocate in their bunkers without firing a shot?

      You’re actually pretty transparently ridiculous. When Hamas fights against the IDF they “use human shields.” When they don’t fight against the IDF, they are cowards. I envy your ability to shield yrself fr. any doubt or serious moral questioning of yr position.

      Comparing Hamas to the Warsaw ghetto fighters just shows how loony the left has become.

      It is a comparison that would make perfect sense to any Palestinian, though of course it offends you since you can only consider Jews as having a right to defend themselves as they did in the Warsaw ghetto.

    2. I find the imputation of cowardice against Hamas’ and other resistance fighters in Gaza ridiculous. Whether or not the fight was right or wise, they have fought against overwhelming odds at great personal risk, exhibiting a bravery far exceeding that of their opponents. You demean yourself by making such trite comments.

    3. Amir, tell me, dugri: how the hiding Hamas fighters are any more cowards than the IDF coming into Gaza and destroying house after house, scorching everything with white phosphorus with no regards to harm to civilians? Or maybe the IDF pilots who just press buttons and send missiles with impunity are very brave?
      From what I understand about modus operandi of IDF in Gaza, the idea was actually never to face Hamas fighters face to face (lessons of the Second Lebanon Fiasco) but instead to scorch earth (in this case, entire neighborhoods) before soldiers’ advance. Not that other armies haven’t done similar things (Russians in Grozny, Americans in Falluja) but I somehow fail to see any bravery in it, for sure nothing more brave than Hamas fighters avoiding being slaughtered.
      Actually, how about this story? Who is more cowardly here – the three Hamas men fighting a desperate fight or the IDF soldiers sending Palestinians men to check whether the helicopter missile killed the Hamasniks or not? And then a D-9.
      I think the Warsaw ghetto analogy is very apt, actually!
      Where did you serve, Amir, and when?

      1. Dugri, I don’t expect Israeli sodliers to risk their lives to protect their enemies civilians. Especially when the people that are supposed to protect them are hiding behind them. Again, it’s not a personal issue. I’m sure the average Hamas fighter has more courage than I do. I’m criticizing the Hamas tactic.
        I’ll tell you where I served if you tell me why you want to know and what relevance it has.

        1. I don’t expect Israeli sodliers to risk their lives to protect their enemies civilians.

          Which is another way of saying that you’d rather kill a Palestinian civilian than even place an IDF soldier in a position in which he MIGHT be hurt. That’s despicable both militarily & morally & explains why Israel is under threat of war crimes investigation.

        2. Dugri, I don’t expect Israeli sodliers to risk their lives to protect their enemies civilians.

          Well, then you contradict laws of war, that state that civilians must be protected in warzones. Yes, even if the price is harm to your soldiers. If you’re OK with that, don’t be surprised when people call for war crimes investigations. As a soldier, I always thought it was my job to fight and be killed, if necessary. For sure, I will do everything I can to protect myself, but destroying lives of countless civilians is not an option. Not on the scale of what was done in Gaza.
          Hamas tactics don’t really bother me – what can I do to change them? To tell them tut-tut?
          By the way, this issue of protecting the soldiers at all costs become a real (and pretty pathetic) pathology of the Israeli society. During the Second Lebanon Fiasco Israel hesitated to enter the ground forces for a long time, even when it was clear that IAF could not stop the Katyushas. It was OK for civilians to die, but god forbid something will happen to “the boys”!
          About your service, it is not really important. It is just that I remember that one of the values of IDF was “khatira le-maga” – “urge for engagement”, and it doesn’t look like IDF has any such urge anymore, beyond pressing buttons from air-conditioned rooms and cleansing the area with bulldozers and WP. When I served in Lebanon we dreamed of hit’akluyot – to face the Hizballah fighters. What do the IDF soldiers of today dream of? Breaking into people’s houses and shooting at women and children who took a wrong turn in the road? What is there to be proud of? I thought you could explain it to me.

        3. Amir, you’re having real trouble with this. It is NOT a Hamas tactic. It IS an IDF tactic.
          Why do you believe Hamas does this? Given that actual evidence is almost non existent I assume it is a combination of the welter of unsubstantiated accusations combined with your need for it to be true.
          Your need for it to be true does not make it so.

          I did not understand your point about protecting civilians! From whom are you suggesting they needed protecting?

    4. Looks like Amos Harel’s back is finally broken. His (and his buddy’s Avi Issacharoff’s) coverage post Gaza gets better and better every day. First there was the Oranim story, just today he follows up with this:

      The forces, it was decided, would advance into the urban areas behind a “rolling curtain” of aerial and artillery fire, backed up by intelligence from unmanned aircraft and the Shin Bet. The lives of our soldiers take precedence, the commanders were told in briefings. Before the operation, Galant and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi painted a bleak picture for the cabinet ministers. “Unlike in Lebanon, the civilians in Gaza won’t have many places to escape to,” Ashkenazi warned. “When an armored force enters the city, shells will fly, because we’ll have to protect our people.”
      The politicians promised backing. Two weeks before the incursion, a member of the General Staff, talking to a journalist, predicted that 600-800 Palestinians civilians would be killed in an Israeli operation. […]
      Essentially, a person only needs to be in a “problematic” location, in circumstances that can broadly be seen as suspicious, for him to be “incriminated” and in effect sentenced to death. Often, there is no need for him to be identified as carrying a weapon. Three people in the home of a known Hamas operative, someone out on a roof at 2 A.M. about a kilometer away from an Israeli post, a person walking down the wrong street before dawn – all are legitimate targets for attack. […]
      “What did you think would happen?” a senior officer wondered this week. “We sent 10,000 troops into Gaza, more than 200 tanks and armored personnel carriers, 100 bulldozers. What were 100 bulldozers going to do there?”

      1. And, again, the English article linked above is a somewhat watered-down version of the Hebrew one. This one, for example, says that after January 7 ground forces had almost no direct contact with enemy fighters, but kept asking for more ammunition. At the same time more and more reports of civilians death arrived.

        1. Thanks for the link Peter. I’ll translate some of the parts you neglected to translate: “There is no disagreement concerning the nature of the fighting. The terrorists operated from within a large and populated civilian population using them as a human shield.” “By the fourth day of the ground assault … the defensive line of the Hamas folded and retreated. It’s people decided to avoid a direct confrontation with Israel’s superior fire power and technology.”
          So your source confirms exactly what I’m saying.
          Hamas provoked Israel into a confrontation by firing rockets at Israeli population centers promising Gaza would be an IDF bloodbath, took cover among its own civilians, and then hid or fled when the IDF assault came. Has there ever been a more despicable organization than Hamas?

          1. Has there ever been a more despicable organization than Hamas?

            Yes, certainly. The IDF’s war crimes in Lebanon & Gaza, hands down. In fact, I’d say the IDF was far more despicable since it killed far more.

            You conveniently neglect to acknowledge that Amos Harel’s use of the term “human shield” was most vague & imprecise. At no point does he indicate that Hamas forced any civilian to stand before it in the standard definition of human shield. Instead, he is referring to Hamas’ (& all guerilla organizations’) tactic of “living & fighting within the people.” To call this using Gaza as a human shield is a mischaracterization of what Hamas did.

          2. Yea, the Israeli army regularly kills innocent people, on purpose and puts them in harms way as human shields.

            Oh and then there are those t-shirts that would make Hitler blush.

            Oh and the Yesh Din study on oversight on the IDF in the OT.

            Oh but im just a leftist!! Everyone is out to get the Jews!!! Poor Israel, surrounded by terrorists, must defend the holy land! BLah blah blah

      2. Very interesting link, thanks Peter.
        I’m not sure the Tom Hurndall case is an appropriate illustration of a former willingness to restrain and control soldiers on the ground. My recollection is that the Israeli authorities were compelled to take effective action only after a lot of pressure from the UK government (including the British police visiting Gaza). That in turn resulted from pressure on the UK government by the Hurndall family and supporters. I think if he’d been Palestinian he’d have disappeared without a blip.
        His case contrasts strongly with that of Rachael Corrie. Her Congressmen and the US government have resisted all the entreaties of her family and supporters to exercise any effective pressure whatsoever.

        1. Miles, I myself could not believe my eyes when I read the sentence about Tom Hurndall, as if it was an example of “military courts convict[ing] soldiers for killing civilians”, when in reality it was exactly the opposite. It was such a lame example. Harel should know better. Lawrence of Cyberia has a great post about it:

          So, in practice, the I.D.F. is willing to open an investigation into the killing of civilians by its soldiers if, say, B’Tselem or the BBC can provide evidence that the otherwise unchallenged testimony of the Israeli soldiers who carried out the killing is a lie. And what kind of evidence from outside agencies will finally make the I.D.F. open an investigation? Well, judging by the investigations carried out over the past four years, there are some informal rules Israeli soldiers need to bear in mind if they don’t want to be one of the unlucky few actually called to account for shooting a civilian:

          Rule 1: Don’t shoot foreigners. Nobody is going to kick up a fuss over dead Palestinians, but when you kill foreigners you invite diplomatic pressure from foreign governments who want more than a “preliminary investigation” into why their unarmed citizens are being shot by the I.D.F. If you kill a foreigner like Tom Hurndall, whose articulate, educated, middle class parents will give up their careers to collect and make public the inconvenient testimony that the I.D.F. ignores; whose government will establish a coroner’s inquest and Metropolitan Police investigation into the circumstances of Tom’s death; and whose diplomatic representatives in Tel Aviv are willing to publicly tear up the I.D.F.’s “preliminary report” and denounce it for the rubbish it is, and to raise the issue in every diplomatic meeting with their Israeli hosts, it will eventually become too costly for the Israeli authorities to cover up for you. The J.A.G. will finally open an investigation, and you will go on trial. […]

  11. Richard – saying the Palestinians view Hamasniks as like defenders in the Warsaw Ghetto may be reasonable on am empathatic level (although you’d also have to acknowledge, I’m sure, that there would be Palestinians who wouldn’t agree with such a comparison), but the key question is what do you think?
    For my part, if only the defenders of the ghetto had had rockets, even if only Qassams, to fire at nearby Nazi cities…

    1. I’m sure, that there would be Palestinians who wouldn’t agree with such a comparison

      You believe there are Palestinians who don’t see Hamas’ actions in Gaza as legitimate resistance to Israeli Occupation akin to Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto? If you have any evidence of this I’d like to see it. I’m not talking about Palestinians who disagree with the Qassam rocket barrages as this is a diff. question & there are Palestinians who disagree with this tactic. I’m talking about Hamas resistance during the war.

  12. Seeing as how the Hamas has about 10,000 fighters, the fact that a few hundred participated in combat does not provide evidence that as a tactic, Hamas tried to defend their civilian population. Their only tactic was to survive the onslaught while hiding under the civilian population.

    Miles – do you have any evidence of bravery?

    1. Miles – do you have any evidence of bravery?

      lol, you have got to be kidding! The Gazan defenders were armed with rifles and maybe RPGs to defend themselves against hundreds of tanks, F16s and remotely controlled drones from the 4th largest army in world using the most advanced military technology available. What more evidence do you need?
      The only advantage they have is that they are defending their own homes so they have an intimate knowledge which the invaders do not. It is their use of that advantage that you are (mis)characterising as ‘human shields’
      I’ve lived on a refugee camp and spoken with fighters such as these. They are no different to you and I. In our circumstances they would make our choices, as we would make their choices in their circumstances.

  13. I’d like to retract my question about evidence of bravery. My point is not whether a particular Hamas fighter is brave or a coward, but about Hamas’ strategy in this confrontation. Protecting the civilian population was not one of their goals.

    1. Sorry, didn’t read this until I’d posted the above.

      To reiterate my earlier question: From whom was anybody supposed to be protecting civilians? Implicit in your assertion “Protecting the civilian population was not one of their goals” is the assumption that civilians were being attacked.
      Personally I believe the IDF intended that lots of people should be killed. It didn’t really matter who: civilian, policeman, fighter, old women, children. It didn’t matter what category of persons died. What was wanted was just lots of death and destruction.
      Formally however, the IDF’s assertion is that it was not attacking civilians, so niether Hamas nor anybody else should have needed to protect them.

      The idea that Hamas or any other group of Gazan could, with their facilities, have mounted any kind of strategic defence is risible. If the IDF wished to urinate anywhere there was precious little any Gazan could do to stop them.

  14. Peter D, it’s one thing to say that the IDF were more cowardly or committed worse war crimes during the fighting than Hamas; it’s certainly an arguable case. But it seems that you (and Richard) are denying that Hamas did anything wrong at all (at all should be read with italics). This seems pretty extraordinary.
    As for the Warsaw Ghetto comparison, in what way is it apt?
    This is what Howard Jacobson wrote on the issue: “In the early 1940s some 100,000 Jews and Romanis died of engineered starvation and disease in the Warsaw Ghetto, another quarter of a million were transported to the death camps, and when the Ghetto rose up it was liquidated, the last 50,000 residents being either shot on the spot or sent to be murdered more hygienically in Treblinka. Don’t mistake me: every Palestinian killed in Gaza is a Palestinian too many, but there is not the remotest similarity, either in intention or in deed – even in the most grossly mis-reported deed – between Gaza and Warsaw.

    Given the number of besieged and battered cities there have been in however many thousands of years of pitiless warfare there is only one explanation for this invocation of Warsaw before any of those – it is to wound Jews in their recent and most anguished history and to punish them with their own grief. Its aim is a sort of retrospective retribution, cancelling out all debts of guilt and sorrow. It is as though, by a reversal of the usual laws of cause and effect, Jewish actions of today prove that Jews had it coming to them yesterday.”

    Surely you and Richard can understand that comparing Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto is – at the very least – tactically foolish? Given all the talk here about being able to do something about Israel’s behaviour, do you think the Warsaw Ghetto comparisons are likely to help you win your arguments?

    1. there is not the remotest similarity, either in intention or in deed – even in the most grossly mis-reported deed – between Gaza and Warsaw.

      That’s your opinion, but not the opinion of many other observers who find the analogy apt. No one here is claiming that Gaza is a Holocaust on the scale of Jewish suffering during WWII. I’m just making an analogy between a Palestinian fighting force defending its people from an oppressor as Jews did in the Warsaw ghetto.

      Given the number of besieged and battered cities there have been in however many thousands of years of pitiless warfare there is only one explanation for this invocation of Warsaw before any of those – it is to wound Jews in their recent and most anguished history and to punish them with their own grief.

      Precisely wrong. The real explanation is an attempt both to remind Jews that they don’t own the market on such suffering as you seem to imply; and to remind them that they can inflict suffering on Palestinians in ways that can be reminiscent of Jewish suffering at the hands of their enemies. Unfortunately, you are both deaf and and lacking in imagination to appreciate the link as you seem to believe that Jews have a monopoly on suffering that Palestinians aren’t entitled to.

    2. Alex, you have a point and I have a point. Analogies are always just that – analogies. Warsaw ghetto was horrible and different, but still similar. I think Richard explains it pretty well, better than what I could do. For me pounding a defenseless population in a tiny strip of land living there for sixty years in squalor resonates in the same manner as suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. But could we find a myriad of differences? Yes, sure.
      Actually, as you are a literary man, I’ll tell you about another analogy. When the operation Cast Lead started I was reading a book called “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. I was near the end of the book, where Allied bombings obliterate entire German neighborhoods, and while I wasn’t too impressed with the rest of the book, these scenes were very strong. Descriptions of mindless bombs tearing apart peacefully sleeping families immediately connected in my mind with bombs falling on Gaza. I almost wept on the bus, with impotent rage and shame that this time it was my people doing that.
      About Hamas doing bad things: they do, I am sure. I cannot spend time and emotional resources on researching it and dealing with it, really. As I said before, I cannot influence how Hamas fights its wars. I want my people to behave morally. If Hamas behaving badly makes anybody feel better about IDF behaving badly, then I pity this person. It also, as an unintended consequence, sort of puts them on the same level.

    3. Peter, I am always impressed by your contributions.
      You said “I almost wept on the bus, with impotent rage and shame that this time it was my people doing that.”
      I can understand this but at the same time I find it impossible to connect you, or any of the Jews I know, to the people doing what is being done to Gazans. Your opposition to it is, of course, very welcome; but neither you, nor the Jewish community as whole is responsible for it.
      The people responsible are those who are commissioning, executing, aiding and abetting the crimes. It is them we deprecate and them we are seeking to restrain, a point Howard Jacobson seems to have completely missed, or more likely deliberately sought to obscure.

      The more I read the article the more disgusted I become.

      “Given the number of besieged and battered cities there have been in however many thousands of years of pitiless warfare there is only one explanation for this invocation of Warsaw before any of those – it is to wound Jews in their recent and most anguished history and to punish them with their own grief.”

      Really only one explanation? When I first mentioned the Warsaw Ghetto I did so because it is the pre-eminent example of what Gaza was suffering, an oppressed and almost defenceless community suffering an onslaught from an overwhelming superior force whose explicit intention was to inflict suffering. I don’t hear South Africans complaining about analogies with apartheid. Maybe that’s because they are not trying to oppress other people and then using apartheid to justify their oppressiveness.
      Israel obviously does not wish to exterminate Palestinians but I really think a moral nation should set its sights a lot higher than not emulating the Nazis. Right now the parallels are a lot more apparent than the distinction.
      In using the phrase “attempting to punish Jews with their own grief” Howard Jacobson is imputing the sadism of the Nazis to opponents of Israel’s actions. Insofar as I want anyone punished, and I do, it is those who have committing crimes, whether against Warsaw, Gaza or New York, for the crimes they have committed, not for what or who they are.

      “Its aim is a sort of retrospective retribution, cancelling out all debts of guilt and sorrow. It is as though, by a reversal of the usual laws of cause and effect, Jewish actions of today prove that Jews had it coming to them yesterday.”

      This is absolutely outrageous! Howard Jacobson is implying that criticism of criminal, not Jewish, acts is used as a justification of what happened to the prisoners of the Warsaw Ghetto and that that is what the critics intend. I am furious. The actions he refers to in “Jewish actions” are NOT Jewish just as the actions of 9/11 are not Islamic. They are both criminal acts, the purported faith or ethnicity of the perpetrators is immaterial.
      What does he mean by “cancelling out all debts of guilt and sorrow”? Those of us who believe that the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust were abominable crimes have a responsibility to see that other crimes are confronted today, especially those motivated by racism or any kind of ‘othering’. We absolutely do not have any kind of debt that can be repaid by allowing those who commit crimes today to go uncensured and unpunished because they have a special connection to the victims of the past.

      Alex said:

      Surely you and Richard can understand that comparing Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto is – at the very least – tactically foolish? Given all the talk here about being able to do something about Israel’s behaviour, do you think the Warsaw Ghetto comparisons are likely to help you win your arguments?

      You make a good point. The question is not whether the comparisons are apt, but whether they are productive. The risk in making them is that one ends up discussing the appropriateness of the comparison rather than the offence itself which is what has happened here. The comparison I made was in:

      I really think Amnesty International have made a colossal error in trying to demonstrate impartiality by being even handed. It is as preposterous as condemning the defenders of the Warsaw ghetto for firing from civilian homes.

      I think the comparison was appropriate and I’m not sorry for making it. I was not attempting to argue that AI should not examine Hamas’ and other Palestinian failings but I think it would be better to formally separate AI’s considerations of these and Israel’s. The effect of presenting both together is that reports of AI’s findings frequently equate the offences of Hamas and Israel in such a manner as to suggest that one justifies the other. Neither of them are justified, whatever the provocations of the other. I’m sure that’s not what AI intended to suggest but that is the effect.

      With respect to comparisons with the Holocaust generally when I was in Palestine they occurred to me all the time. One cannot pass through the Qalandiya checkpoint without being reminded of countless pictures of scenes related to the Holocaust. A friend of mine was at a checkpoint near Nablus when a Palestinian passed through with a violin. The guards made her take it out and play it. More than anything it is the routine othering and degradation of Palestinians that brings a comparison unbidden to the mind of the observer. I suspect the reason the comparisons sting is not that they are unjustified but because, to some extent, they are.

        1. I think that must have been the same incident (at least I hope so). Should’ve been a him, not a her, sorry.

  15. Richard – do you think the comparison to the Warsaw Ghetto is strategically wise? Does it help you win over more Jews in America? If not why not? Even if the fault lies with their “lack of imagination”, do you not think you should try something that is likely to work?
    Peter D – At least you are able to admit that Hamas aren’t the blameless resistance organisation that Richard seems to imply they are.
    Btw, during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, were the Jews being armed by a powerful third state with sophisticated weaponry? Again, if only.

    I’m still waiting, btw, for someone to give me another example of an organisation that succeeds in liberating a part of its territory, only to do all they can to provoke the occupier back in (apart from Hizbollah in 2006)?

  16. Richard – I also don’t know where you get the idea that I think Jews own the market on such suffering. I just think analogies should be serious, explained, and well chosen. The Gaza-Warsaw Ghetto analogy falls on all three counts. Even you can’t list more than the vaguest generalities. The same applies to your final sentence, which is once again needlessly provocative.

    1. The Gaza-Warsaw Ghetto analogy falls on all three counts.

      As you so often do, you substitute yr own judgment for those of any reasonable person. But your judgments aren’t necessarily those of the rest of the world regarding such issues. You’re entitled to yr opinion no matter how restricted it might be in perspective. But don’t think anyone here makes the mistake of seeing yr view as definitive about any of these matters.

      do you think the comparison to the Warsaw Ghetto is strategically wise? Does it help you win over more Jews in America?

      I’m less concerned with catering to the liberal foibles and sensitivities of American Jews on this issue than I am in describing the Gaza hell to my satisfaction for any reasonable person whether they be Jewish or not.

      Personally, this analogy as long as it is not taken too far, resonates for me. It resonates for many others, some of whom are Jewish. That satisfies me. It doesn’t have to satisfy you.

      were the Jews being armed by a powerful third state with sophisticated weaponry?

      What was that sophisticated weaponry Hamas used during the war? Was it the homemade Qassams? The rifles? The RPGs? Alex, you’re talking in slogans instead of in real world arguments. Get real & stop talking debating points. They’re very unsatisfying & make it appear as if you have a megaphone instead of a reasoning apparatus.

      give me another example of an organisation that succeeds in liberating a part of its territory

      Oh, you mean Hamas, an organization dedicated to creating a Palestinian state on pre-1967 territory should have been satisfied that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 & the group should’ve stopped their agitation to end the entire Occupation? That makes perfect sense–if you’re Alex Stein. Not so much if you’re a Palestinian. But hey, all Hamas has to do is take advice from Alex Stein and I’m sure they’d end the Occupation and have that Palestinian state in no time.

      1. “Hamas, an organization dedicated to creating a Palestinian state on pre-1967 territory”
        huh?? according to whom? Not according to Hamas.

        1. According to its senior leadership, that’s who. Your problem is you stopped reading anything fr. Hamas as of their 1988 charter. A lot has changed since then that you’ve apparently missed.

  17. Ok Richard, the voice of reasonable people. Would you please tell me four or five similarities between the Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza? Even three or four would do. Or two. So far you’ve just come up with the generality of ‘defending their people from oppression’ which could be said of thousands of cases. Analogies should be compelling, which means the similarities should extend beyond the general. So can you give me some similarities?
    As to the arms issue, was any state helping to arm Jews in the ghetto? Are you really suggesting that Hamas are no stronger than the Jews were in the ghetto? If so why haven’t Israel managed to destroy Hamas (indeed you are one of those who constantly crows on about how destroying Hamas is impossible), as the Nazis eventually did to the Jews in the ghetto?
    And why do you think it is strategically wise to make the comparison between Gaza and Warsaw? Does it help your case?

    1. Would you please tell me four or five similarities between the Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza?

      I’ve previously written posts on this subject myself as well as recommended Sara Roy to you. I’m not going to rehash all that here. As Hillel says: “Now, go and study.”

      Are you really suggesting that Hamas are no stronger than the Jews were in the ghetto?

      If we compare the level of armaments used by the Germans then to the Israelis now & then do the same for Hamas compared to the Jewish resisters, then yes, they’re roughly comparable.

      If so why haven’t Israel managed to destroy Hamas

      Because to do so Israel would have to be willing to do to Hamas precisely what the Nazis did in the Warsaw ghetto, that is, exterminate every last remnant of resistance. Now mind you there are many rightist voices calling for precisely such an Israeli response. But there seems to be some lingering shred of decency that does prevent Israel from engaging in genocide. That shred of decency does grow ever slimmer & frailer, but it nevertheless persists. Israel, after all, doesn’t have quite the overweening pride & power that the Nazis did in their day; and the former is more dependent on the kindness of states like the U.S. If Israel had the independence, natural resources & industrial complex the Nazis had–well, who knows…

      But one thing you conveniently forget is that I didn’t say the historical analogy matched up in every regard. I do not claim Israel has engaged in genocide as I’ve already made clear to you. Wreaking dreadful suffering? Yes. But genocide–not yet.

      why do you think it is strategically wise to make the comparison between Gaza and Warsaw?

      Because Israel’s acts are evil and a violation of the laws of war. I’m deeply offended by them & Israel’s policy, as a Jew and critical Zionist. So I will use every effective historical analogy that allows me to articulate my anger at what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.

    1. I average 1,000 visits per day & write for Comment is Free and Huffington Post. So yes, I’m trying to win hearts and minds. But whose hearts and how? That’s the question.

      Personally, the liberal Jews who are offended by any reference to Palestinian suffering in connection with the Warsaw ghetto are probably not my prime audience. If I feel a statement or analogy is justified I generally don’t withhold it simply because tactically it might offend a potential reader.

      BTW, the best piece ever written on such historical analogies compared Lebanon 2006 to the Holocaust & was written by Sara Roy. And it is not an ideologically extreme piece of writing. It is quite careful and modulated & Roy is the daughter of Holocaust survivors as well. In fact, her commitment to fighting for Palestinian human rights is in part based on her sense of the injustice suffered by Jews and her parents in the Holocuast.

      GOogle it here & then read it. I also feature the book containing this essay in my Amazon store.

  18. As for the article I posed, I don’t necessarily agree with it, although I thought it was interesting to get a different point of view. But again, as George Orwell says, just because it’s in the Daily Telegraph, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. . It’s fascinating to see how you a priori dismiss sources because you dislike the ideology of the centre/media source involved. If someone did that about the Guardian or Haaretz, I wouldn’t accept it, and I fail to see why I should now. It’s quite transparently anti-intellectual.

    1. I read pro-Israel right wing sources all the time. So if you accuse me of not doing so you’re flat out wrong. I often critique such sources here. So much for being anti-intellectual. Actually, it is the arguments of the Aipac-Winep crowd which are often hostile to history, moral reasoning and intellectual curiousity.

    1. If Fallujah had been an event that was part of a 40 yr history of U.S. Occupation of Iraq during which thousands of Iraqis had been killed by our forces and we’d blockaded the city for 18 months, bringing it to its knees, then hell yeah, it’d be an apt analogy.

    2. From what I read, people in Fallujah were actually given opportunity to flee before the offensive and many did. This is not to justify it (the offensive), but people in Gaza had really nowhere to go.

  19. More on the Warsaw Ghetto comparison stuff. This is SS Brigadefuhrer Jurgen Stroop in 1943. On the third day of the operation he says “large numbers of Jews – entire families – already on fire, jumped from the windows. We made sure that these, as well as the other Jews, were liquidated immediately.” Before the liquidation of the Ghetto more than half of the Jews had been transported to extermination camps – in Gaza terms that would be 500,000 people. The death rate from starvation and disease in the Ghetto was 4000 a month; the Gaza equivalent would be 12,000.
    Here’s David Aaranovitch on the issue: “So why the philistine insistence on this particular match? Partly, I imagine, so that the matcher can mention the “irony” of Jews supposedly doing to others what the Nazis “did to them” – as if there weren’t a thousand other closer, but far less narratively satisfying, comparisons.

    But this ahistorical hyperbole is also the product of a kind of binary thinking, the belief that there can only be two kinds of anything, and two possible responses: there’s the good and the bad; there’s the victim and the murderer. The only way Jews can shed their unique victim status is if they take on the mantle of the worst kind of murderer, the mantle of Stroop. The only way we can think about the Holocaust (or subsequent little holocausts) is that those who carried it out are so unlike us that they are beyond comprehension.”

    PS – there are a couple of my comments from a couple of days ago that seem not to have been modified.

    1. I’m rapidly tiring of this subject as you’re treating it. Once again, you’re using that histrionic megaphone & refusing to understand the nuance in my use of the analogy & pretending that I’ve said the analogy is ironclad in every detail. So I’m done talking to you about it.

      the “irony” of Jews supposedly doing to others what the Nazis “did to them”

      Hell yeah, I’d say that an apt point to mention.

      as if there weren’t a thousand other closer, but far less narratively satisfying, comparisons.

      I can’t think of another “closer” comparison, both geographically, historically, and rhetorically. Interesting that Aaranovitch says there are a thousand more satisfying comparisons but he doesn’t name one.

      ahistorical hyperbole

      This guy has no monopoly on knowledge Jewish history. I know the field as well or better than him having studied it in undergrad & grad school for many yrs. So don’t you or he go trying to make a claim that this is ahistorical when it isn’t. You don’t like the comparison. It makes you uncomfortable. It angers you. That’s fine. You’re entitled to that. But you & he are not entitled to make claims that the analogy has no historical basis or validity. I made clear I don’t believe Israel is engaging in genocide. So raising claims about extermination camps, starvation, disease, etc. is spurious because I never claimed the magnitude of suffering inflicted on Gazans was the same as the magnitude inflicted during the Holocaust.

      But I am offended by your & his unwillingness to concede the magnitude of suffering Israel has inflicted on Gaza. You concede in brief asides that bad things have happened. But the overwhelming amt. of yr time, energy & verbosity is spent minimizing the enormity of Israel’s victimization of Palestinians. I think that’s a little sad.

      the product of a kind of binary thinking, the belief that there can only be two kinds of anything, and two possible responses: there’s the good and the bad

      I’m really tiring of this. I’ve said time & again that I don’t see the picture in black and white, that there is guilt, suffering & bad faith on both sides (though far more on the Israeli side imo). You know that I have made such statements. So the next time you quote someone insinuating that I refuse to see blame on both sides I’ll call you out on it in a harsher way than I have done here. Don’t put me in a position to say something like that to you which I would prefer not doing.

    2. I’m a bit confused about Aaronovitch’s last two sentences (“The only way…”). Is he presenting that as an example of the Manichaean worldview he criticises?
      Those who compare the situation of the Palestinians to that of the European Jews in the 1940s (which is not the same as saying Israelis=Nazis, also, to compare != to equate) are not likely to claim “unique victim status” for Jews, are they? Aaronovitch himself uses the word “Holocaust”, capitalised, which does imply uniqueness, or rather “first place”, compared with the other, lesser, holocausts. But to frame suffering as a competition (which the Jews invariably win) is disgusting, just like suggesting that calling the slaughter of Armenians in 1915 a genocide would somehow detract from Jewish suffering is obscene. OTOH we can very well recognise the atrocity at Srebenica (or Gaza, for that matter) without calling it, for propaganda purposes, a “genocide”.

      Implicit in the “Warshaw Ghetto” comparison (and the channeling of Hannah Arendt that frequently goes with it) is that the perpetrators are precisely not so unlike us that they are beyond comprehension. The terrifying lesson of the Third Reich is that given the right circumstances, almost everyone can become a little Eichmann, or a little Stroop, or even just a little Einsatzgruppen grunt. The irony so contemptuously dissed by Aaronovitch is that Israel is well on the way to prove that point, not that it’s there yet.

    3. I too am unsure what Aaranovitch is trying to say in the last part of his passage.

      I agree with the thrust of Fiddler’s last paragraph. One of the lessons of the Holocaust is just how easy it is for ordinary people to arrive at barbarity without really being conscience of the journey they have taken. The view changes only gradually and little noticed along the route. The last eight years are a very sobering lesson in just how little it takes for Joe Public to support and engage in the most unspeakable and wanton cruelty.
      Israel has for some time been on a relentless and seemingly unstoppable march to the right. This quote from http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1074218.html:

      “The impact of the long confrontation with the Palestinians cannot be ignored,” says a senior reserve officer, “and one should also bear in mind what sort of values inductees have when they come to us these days. Every year, the education system produces a significant number of little racists.”

      The “sort of values inductees have when they come to us these days” are not coming out of a vacuum. To a considerable extent they are a product of a deliberate inculcation of the sort Israel frequently ascribes to Palestinians. Does the deliberate exaggeration and exploitation of a sense of threat and unremitting insistence that security can only be ensured by a overwhelming military dominance sound familiar?
      Israel is sleepwalking into fascism. All of Israelis citizens and her neighbours deserve better. Those who are offering it comfort on its present path are misguided, however well meaning.

      With respect to Aaranovitch’s irony point: The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is, on the face of it, ironic. I think many of us who have sympathy for the plight of Palestinians have had this thought at some time. The “how can they do this?” question has and does trouble me. I don’t believe anybody to be fundamentally evil and I don’t believe Israelis are enjoying what they are doing. I feel there must be an explaination but it seems to be beyond my grasp. The best hypothesis I have is that the Jewish state behaves badly because Jews have been treated badly. Not out of revenge, but in the way that the abused often grow into abusers. I have thought a lot about this but I do not pretend that what I have expressed is a complete or satisfactory explanation. I am, of course, not suggesting that every Israeli is an abuser, or that every German and Austrian was a Nazi. Both communities contain people with the courage and will to oppose what is wrong even at great personal cost. I think a great deal of both cases can be explained by a tendency of power over another to corrupt the powerful.
      Nelson Mandela said:
      “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”
      A while ago I heard one of the former Guantánamo inmates address a meeting. He was asked what effect his incarceration had had on him. In his somewhat humerous reply he said that whilst it was obviously an extremely wretched experience he had in some ways benefited from it. I cannot express it well, but it was quite clear that however bad his treatment was, it belonged to his tormentors, not to him. The pain, discomfort and permanent disability are his, but it is his tormentors who were corrupted by it. He did not say it explicitly, but I have the clear impression that, given the choice, he would not have chosen to be them tormenting him rather than himself being tormented. I should add that if I have given the impression of someone who is easily recovering then I have done him a disservice. He is still clearly traumatised and I am profoundly grateful for his willingness to speak publicly despite this.
      In a similar way I believe Israel and Israelis are being harmed by their abuse of Palestinians in a way that Palestinians are not. Of course, Palestinians are suffering greatly but they are not as corrupted by the abuse as their abusers are.

  20. Why don’t we ask Israel to tell us whether there was a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza or if they met the terms of the truce?

    Sure. It’d be an “interesting” take. Try harder to veil the hilarity.

  21. I’m jumping into this discussion rather late because I was only now able to obtain a copy of the original Ha’aretz article about Zamir’s work.
    In this entire thread, although there was a lot of discussion about “human shields”, no one has referenced the important human rights work of B’Tselem. This is a pity because they are after all an Israeli human rights organization, so are relatively immune to the typical accusations of antisemitism and Israel-haters that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international have to suffer.
    I refer you specifically to their article at http://www.btselem.org/English/Human_Shields/Index.asp, in which the following statement (among many others) appears: “Despite the High Court’s decision and army orders preceding and following it, security forces continue to use Palestinians as human shields. In 2007, for example, B’Tselem documented twelve such cases.” One reason B’Tselem is such a valuable resource is that they carefully and thoroughly document every issue they examine, providing all evidence for the viewer’s eyes and concealing nothing. They are quick to condemn rights violations regardless of the perpetrators or the victims.
    In an attempt to bring the level of discussion down to civility, let me comment on a couple of items raised above.
    Alex, ponder the situation Gaza was in after Israel’s “wiithdrawal.” If you don’t like the Warsaw Ghetto metaphor, how about Jericho in Joshua’s time? After their highly publicized troop movement out of Gaza, the IDF completely dominated the air and water around Gaza, while their armed forces remained about one inch outside the Palestinian boundary. They established enough checkpoints to ensure that humanitarian aid would be reduced to a relative trickle (I can document this if you wish), leading to a state in which a majority of citizens went hungry every day. The checkpoints also reduced to nothing Gaza’s access to the outer world (of course Egypt was also complicit in this), resulting in massive unemployment and the inability of farmer’s to sell and transport their crops.
    I ask you simply to consider what kind of action you personally would take under similar circumstances? Hamas had already attempted the diplomatic route, offering Israel a long-term cease-fire and truce if Israel was willing to discuss withdrawal to pre-1967 borders. This offer was repeated several times and was amplified by even more generous offers by the Arab League. All of this stuff is thoroughly reported in Israeli newspapers and TV, although little escapes into the United States media.
    But also consider that according to reliable Israeli sources (

http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e011.htm) demonstrating that Hamas rocket attacks feel of to almost zero in the six months following the cease-fire in June 2008. You can also easily find Israeli articles showing that it was Israel that broke the truce by an armed invasion of Gaza on Nov. 4, 2008.
    I would also ask you and the others in this thread to actually contact the israeli Foreign Office and ask them about Operation Cast Lead. Don’t be surprised if you receive a document (as i did) that is packed with transparent lies from top to bottom.
    Alex – and Amir, who seems to ignore every aspect of the reality of Israeli’s invasion with massive firepower against poorly-armed resistance fighters – I beg you to arm yourself with the facts before entering into arguments such as this one. While i do not condone the invective used by some of your opponents, I would say that given the rhetorical tricks and half-truths you often resort to they are almost justified (nevertheless, I ask them to tone it down – this is not a schoolyard brawl but an examination of very serious issues).

    1. Good comment Aherodias.
      Quoting from the B’Tselem site: “The soldiers in the field did not initiate this practice; rather, the order to use civilians as a means of protection was made by senior army officials.”
      This was news to me. It is incredible that the IDF practice of using human shields was in any way ever officially sanctioned. I am less surprised now that we hear so much about Hamas’ use of human shields despite the paucity of evidence.

  22. Firstly, please can you tell me why you are selectively moderating my comments? If it’s because I’ve broken the three in one day rule, that’s because I generally try to break down individual points into different posts. I’m sorry if that’s doesn’t fit the house style, and I won’t do it again, but I’d appreciate it if you allowed my other comments to go up, particularly as people are asking me questions about my position without seeing my latest posts.

    Re. tactics: correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought that you believe the right-wing Israel lobby is one of the primary obstacles to balanced American policy in the Middle East. If so, shouldn’t mainstream Jewish opinion be your main target?

    As for the issues armaments, if you’ll forgive me quoting you, “I’m all eyes and ears. Evidence?”

    As far as I can see the analogy breaks down on the count of context, scale, and intent. In other words it doesn’t meet any of the main requirements of an analogy. All you’ve produced so far is a general statement about fighting oppressors, which could apply to almost every conflict in human history, and hence isn’t much use in illuminating the situation.

    Will read the Roy piece…Have you ever devoted a whole piece to the Warsaw Ghetto analogy? If so I’ll check it out.

    1. tell me why you are selectively moderating my comments?

      If you make 10 comments in a day and I want to reply to them I approve them as I reply to them. That’s why it takes some time. I understand that you represent an important pt of view in the debate here so I’m relaxed about how much you post.

      shouldn’t mainstream Jewish opinion be your main target?

      Good question. There are many ways one could approach this strategic question. You can attempt to tailor yr arguments to appeal to a constituency that is to your right hoping that if you articulate yr positions carefully enough & modulate them carefully enough, that they will eventually come to you. J Street does this & quite well. Israel Policy Forum does this fairly well. Brit Tzedek does this & less well.

      But I’m a blogger and not a political organization. I see my role as speaking truth to power. If I speak it long enough & well enough I believe those sitting on the fence will be drawn closer to my pt of view. I am I.F. Stone and not J. Philip Randolph. I’m less of an incrementalist and more of a fighter against the established order (when it is unjust). I think the massive increase in readership of this blog since I began writing it is testimony that my strategy has worked fairly well.

      As for the issues armaments, if you’ll forgive me quoting you, “I’m all eyes and ears. Evidence?”

      You have to be more specific. I’m not clear what exactly you’re responding to and what evidence you’re asking for. You aren’t really claiming are you that the difference in scale of armaments between the Nazis & Jews and the difference in scale bet. Israel & Hamas is a bogus one? If so, that would be an easy one to argue.

      I wrote an entire post about Roy’s essay & my thoughts about it. It relates to the Holocaust & the suffering Israel inflicted in Lebanon, not specifically to the Warsaw ghetto though that might be mentioned as an aside.

  23. Why does it need the 40 year stuff etc etc for it to be an apt analogy? Even without that context isn’t it reasonable to say something like “I’m just making an analogy between an Iraqi fighting force defending its people from an oppressor as Jews did in the Warsaw Ghetto,” which – thus far – is as far as you’ve got in providing actually parallels between the two cases.

  24. I’m sorry that you think I’m refusing to understand your nuance. The problem is, all I have to on is your statement about Palestinian resistance fighters. If you’d spell out some more of the similarities between the two cases, then I’d happily engage with them.

    You want better comparisons? Here are a few: Khost, Sarajevo, Grozny, Sangin. These are far from exact, of course – context is everything – but they are far better than Warsaw, and that’s just from recent history.

    I’m sorry that you feel I am unwilling to concede the enormity of the suffering etc. The truth is I am. With your blog, believe it or not, my silence is mostly consent.

    I’m also sorry that you don’t feel I acknowledge that you think both sides share come of the responsibility. In what ways, then, do you think Hamas are responsible?

    1. In what ways, then, do you think Hamas are responsible?

      Alex, I’ve written about this times too numerous to mention. You’ve been reading & commenting at this blog regularly enough & long enough that you have to have read my statements on this subject. So pls. don’t expect me to rehash. If you do a Google internal site search using terms like “Hamas war crimes” or some such you should come up with at least some of what I’ve written. I haven’t done this myself so I’m not sure what the result will be. But it should get you some answers to yr question.

    2. Alex,

      You want better comparisons? Here are a few: Khost, Sarajevo, Grozny, Sangin. These are far from exact, of course – context is everything – but they are far better than Warsaw, and that’s just from recent history.

      These are much less known to the general public and thus resonate less. Listen, what’s the point of all this “Never again” talk, all the Holocaust memorials and movies etc, if in the end we cannot use the Holocaust analogies for anything. I think that Holocaust was so horrific that anything even remotely resembling it or looking like a slippery slope towards it should make our hair to stand on end. I don’t know about other Jews, but I view the conflict constantly through the Holocaust prism. Really. For example, this video documenting IDF invasion of Bil’in. I see the old Arab people made humiliated, step out of their car at a gunpoint of an arrogant Israeli soldier and think Holocaust. That’s how I was conditioned. I guess you are right that some people are conditioned in such a way as to shout treif on any Holocaust analogy, so, they might not be helpful.

  25. The Waraw ghetto fighters were not fighting for their liberty they were fighting for their lives, because the Nazis wanted to kill every one of them. To say that the analogy is apt except for that little genocide detail – is to say that the analogy is not apt. The Nazi blockade on Warsaw was to starve the population. The Israeli embargo on Gaza, whether justified or not, is meant to cause hardships in order to bring down the Hamas. Not quite the same thing.

    1. The Nazi blockade on Warsaw was to starve the population. The Israeli embargo on Gaza, whether justified or not, is meant to cause hardships

      It’s a bit of a slippery slope from merely “causing hardships” to 1.5 million people to “starving” them. Certainly, Israel hasn’t gotten close yet to starving Gazans en masse. But just because it’s merely causing malnutrition among infants but not starving them to death…is that something you’d like to defend or be proud of?

  26. In terms of the issue of balance of forces. If you’re saying that the imbalance of power between the two sides is similar in the two cases, then fair enough, although again it could be said of hundreds of other cases. If you’re literally comparing the strengths of Hamas in Gaza and the Jews in the Ghetto, though, it’s clear that Hamas are much stronger.
    The key here is that Hamas have managed to make an art of asymmetrical warfare; whatever happens, they win. For a number of reasons, Israel won’t destroy them a la the Tamils in Sri Lanka or the Chechens in Chechnya. So they routinely win the media war, and are still able to wear down the Israeli population in the south through rockets. These do the job of demoralizing the population without the international opprobrium that goes with suicide-bombings. The point is that Hamas’ weakness is in fact its strength – this is yet another difference between Gaza 2009 and the Warsaw Ghetto.
    FYI – a search of Hamas war crimes pulls up a number of posts about…Israeli war crimes. I don’t know what I should search for. Could you not give me a couple of statements regarding your thoughts about Hamas wrongdoing?

    1. If you’re literally comparing the strengths of Hamas in Gaza and the Jews in the Ghetto, though, it’s clear that Hamas are much stronger.

      If you re-read what I wrote it should be pretty clear that I wasn’t claiming this at all. After all, there IS a diff. between 1943 & 2009 in terms of the development of armaments. Even the crudest guerilla insurgency these days has weapons the Warsaw ghetto fighters could only dream of.

      Could you not give me a couple of statements regarding your thoughts about Hamas wrongdoing?

      I have written MANY times here that both Hezbollah and Palestinian militants who attack Israeli civilians within the Green Line are engaging in war crimes. I have written many times that I’d be glad to see some militia commanders in the dock in the Hague as long as there were Israeli generals alongside them. But one of my problems is that Israel will never agree to charging Hamas with war crimes in an international forum because they know that will automatically activate a demand that Israel face the same treatment. That is why it would never give a Marwan Barghouti or Ahmed Sadaat to an international tribunal as they should in order to strengthen the precedent of charging Palestinians with international war crimes. Then of course there’s always the possibility that the ICC would not gain a conviction & Israel would far prefer a sure conviction via Israeli justice.

      1. According to the Rome Statute,

        Article 17

        1.(…)the Court shall determine that a case is inadmissible where:

        (a) The case is being investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it, unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution;


        So the fact that Palestinians are or have been prosecuted by Israeli courts renders their cases inadmissible to the ICC (on an individual basis, of course).
        The ICC is an auxiliary court, it’s not meant to replace national jurisdiction as long as the latter is working. Unfortunately Israel has signed, but not ratified the Rome Statute, so (if I understand the legalese correctly) for referral of Israeli war criminals to the ICC either an Israeli declaration of acceptance of ICC jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis (Art. 12.3) or an UNSCR under chapter VII (Art. 13 (b)) would be needed. How likely is that?

        1. But I think Israel claiming jurisdiction on crimes involving Palestinians is problematic since the Territories are not Israel’s sovereign territory. Do we really want to concede that Israel has “national jurisdiction” over Palestinians?

          Personally, I think this is yet another reason why Israel would never concede a case to the ICC (& conversely why it SHOULD do so.

          1. Actually, a number of countries claim universal jurisdiction when one of their citizens becomes victim of a crime abroad and the state where the crime happened doesn’t prosecute and/or extradite the suspect. (Remember Spain’s prosecution of Augusto Pinochet?)
            I don’t know though if Israel is among those states, or if they just claim a right to extralegal “measures” anywhere in the world, as they’ve often done, even in friendly countries (see under Munich ’72, e.g.).

            But I fully agree that Israel should ratify the Rome Statutes and the additional APIC asap, along with every state that hasn’t done so yet.

          2. There are many crimes for which universal jurisdiction applies, they can be prosecuted anywhere regardless of the nationalities of the perpetrators or victims or where the offence was committed. See for example Spanish judge to hear torture case against six Bush officials.
            Like Fiddler, I think the chances of the ICC being used in this context are vanishingly small. However there are other avenues. IMO people should focus on the likelihood of bringing proceedings successfully rather than on the egregiousness of the offence. Cases regarding house demolitions are much more likely to be effective than soldiers shooting old ladies. The former are often well documented and incontrovertible, the latter will likely be stymied by all manner of obfuscatory tactics. This might seem heartless, and to some extent it is, but at the moment there is NO justice whatsoever.

          3. This is a lesson to me to read before referencing!
            I believe the Torture Convention which is what the Spanish officials are using is may be constrained in its applicability as Fiddler described. However, I believe grave breaches of art 147 of the 4th Geneva Convention are not so constrained.

  27. Alex, as far as I can understand the only thing which you believe could be compared to the Warsaw Ghetto is … the Warsaw Ghetto. All the discussion centres around whether that is the case, or alternatively if there are any features of the Gaza siege which make a comparison appropriate. I don’t think we’re going to change each others minds quickly.
    With regard to the wisdom as opposed to the appropriateness of the analogy: For those who wish to obscure Israel’s offences this is a cheap target and they are going to leap on it. However, I think most ordinary people, including Jews (even in the US), will not have a problem seeing that there are parallels. Neither do I think they will be impressed by any smokescreen thrown up to obscure those parallels. To say “I’m not engaging in murder” is hardly a convincing defence when you are holding a bloody cudgel over a cowering victim.
    Analogies are not usually exact equivalences. The reason people use Warsaw for analogy is that it is the pre-eminent example, a common rhetorical device. When Israelis and supporters of Israel compare Hamas to the Nazis, they are often NOT making an analogy but attempting to draw a more exact equivalence! Successfully so if we are to judge from the degree of mistaken beliefs commonly held about it, particularly in the US. Is that not a more serious problem? Most people know the Warsaw Ghetto well enough to be able to see the parallels as well as the differences. Nobody is claiming that Israel is attempting to annihilate Gazans but you don’t get points for not committing genocide.

  28. All these posts deal with Israeli war crimes. Btw, to be clearer, I’m not asking if you think Hamas have committed war crimes; I’m asking what responsibility you think they hold for the current impasse?

    1. Ah, I see. That’s a diff. question than the one you asked yesterday. Not sure how to answer the question since it covers so much ground. Perhaps you could qualify it in some way & let me know what specifically you want to know in regards to Hamas’ role in “the current impasse.”

      BTW, I think I’ve written many times here that Hamas is not by any stretch my ideal political movement. I almost surely wouldn’t vote for Hamas were I Palestinian (nor would I vote Fatah). Hamas are bad guys just as much as the extreme Israeli nationalists, or settlers or Fatah are bad guys. I especially don’t like the Hamas crowd in Damascus. But along with many Israeli analysts, I think there are elements within Hamas with whom a peace could be negotiated. Not a perfect peace. But a peace. The problem here is that there is no Israeli Obama, no political leader with the courage and foresight to renounce the military option as a policy of first choice & to embrace negotiation as the option of first choice. I don’t know if there CAN be an Israeli Obama.

  29. I’d agree with you that I think Israel should negotiate with Hamas, although I think Hamas recognition of Israel should be a pre-requisite (note recognition of Israel and not recognition of Israel’s ‘right to exist’, which is meaningless). I guess I’m more cynical than you as to where that would lead us, but I certainly think it should be a policy commitment to find out. Needless to say the current Israeli leadership won’t be taking us in that direction.

  30. A 2006 interview with Ismail Haniyeh conducted by the Washington Post, in which he answers the question of ‘recognition’ – among other things.


    And even if this interview wasn’t proof of Hama’s intentions there is no reason to believe they are the comic book villains the Zionists make them out to be.

    Israel kills far more civilians and abuses far more Palestinian civilians on a REGULAR DAILY BASIS.

    If we’re comparing suffering – there is NO question. Israel is ruining far more lives.

    It’s amazing how simple the truth is. We have countless studies on life under the Occupation. So much data and blah blah.

    Still Zionists LIE over and over.

  31. LD – no he doesn’t. He knows very well what he has to do: recognise the Israel that is recognised by the international community and is a member of the United Nations, i.e. Israel within its pre-1967 borders. I never claim them to be cominc book villains. But – just like the current Israeli Prime Minister – they are rejectionists.

    1. Haniya has no obligation to recognize Israel unless & until Israel is willing to recognize Hamas. Let us know when you Israelis can get there & you’ll really have something to talk about. I never cease to be amazed at the obliviousness that Israel supporters manifest. Obligations always rest with the other side, never with Israel.

    2. Alex, I do not know if you even read the article.

      Does Israel recognize the right of return? Does Israel obey international law?

      You tout the fact that Israel is a member of the UN but Israel regularly dismisses the UN. The UN means nothing to Israel.

      The UN and all those other progressive institutions mean nothing to powerful entities, be it corporations or States like the US or Israel.

      Put all this in context.

      I see no substantiated argument against Hamas. And that does not absolve them from their acts of terror. That’s the SAD part.

      Israel is ‘accepted’ in the same way Saudi Arabia is accepted.

      It’s political not moral. But if that’s what you mean by stating Israel is a member of the UN – then just say so.

      But keep in mind the great irony here. I do recall that Israel was allowed into the UN on the condition that it recognize the right of return. Well, it hasn’t and never will.

      It all comes back to Zionism. Maintaining that ethnic majority; the Jewish majority.

      I remember Norman Finkelstein lampooning Abbas at one of his lectures. He compared Israel’s hysterical reaction to Ahmedinejad versus their relationship w/ Abbas.

      It turns out that Abbas is a Holocaust denier. He wrote a paper on it in fact. And look how highly he is held by the Israeli and US planners.

      So forgive my intense skepticism whenever a Zionist attempts to take the moral high-ground (i.e., whining about terrorism).

  32. Robert Fisk – one of the best journalists covering the Middle East – has a tribute to Tom Hurndall that connects nicely to some discussions here:

    [Hurndall] wrote. “Things I’ve heard and seen over the last few weeks proves what I already knew; neither the Iraqi regime, nor the American or British, are clean. Maybe Saddam needs to go but … the air war that’s proposed is largely unnecessary and doesn’t discriminate between civilians and armed soldiers. Tens of thousands will die, maybe hundreds of thousands, just to save thousands of American soldiers having to fight honestly, hand to hand. It is wrong.

    (emphasis mine)

    1. Silly question. If it is a war crime, then let’s bring to justice every Israeli gunner who’s ever fired a rocket or tank shell on a civilian area in Lebanon or Gaza–not to mention all those cluster munitions–whether or not they killed or injured anyone. I don’t see justice in b&w terms as you seem to. Justice is relative. You get as close to justice as you can.

  33. Not everywhere in Gaza was attacked Peter; you make it sound like the whole area was a shooting range (maybe you even believe it), in which case a hell of a lot more people would have died.

    1. Not everywhere in Gaza was attacked Peter; you make it sound like the whole area was a shooting range

      Uh, that’s pretty much what it was. You’re not there. I’ve read accounts by multiple journalists who have been there since the war and they directly contradict you. 4,000 homes were completely destroyed. Tens of thousands without shelter. Could you tell us a few major neighborhoods which remain unscathed? A few post war pictures might be good visual aids as well.

    2. I am not sure to which comments this refers to. I have no sympathy to an argument that had Israel wanted to kill much more people it could have done so. Israel knows it cannot really engage in carpet bombings, but does everything to push the line. Use of cluster bombs in Lebanon and WP in Gaza (and Lebanon) is really nothing more in my eyes than state terror.
      Not everybody was attacked? Well, not everybody was attacked in Sderot either, judging by the number of casualties through the years, n’est-ce pas? And I am not sure what is more horrific: not to know whether you are going to be attacked or not or to expect an attack with almost a certainty. In fact, from people who visited Sderot, this point is often voiced and I appreciate it: to leave in constant danger of a Qassam falling on you, even though it is known as abysmally ineffective, is indeed a horrible thing. So, what can be said of Gazans, who have been living under the Damocles sword of much greater effectiveness for years?

  34. The issue of the right of return is far more complicated, as you and I both know, particularly as the relevant resolution speaks of “willing to live in peace with their neighbours”. Given that the right of return is used as the trojan horse to destroy Jewish statehood, it’s clear that Israel is right to oppose it. Having said that, if the Palestinian refugees agreed to come and serve in the army and learn Hebrew (those who were able to do so, of course, like everyone else), I would have no problem accepting their return en masse.

    “Israel regularly dismisses the UN”
    I think you mean that Israel regularly dismisses UN General Assembly resolutions, which aren’t binding.

    The Saudi analogy is apt – both states have the same rights and responsibilities accorded them by the international system (right to exist not being one of them).

    The Abbas point is absurd – Abbas wrote his phd thesis or something twenty years ago; he clearly doesn’t hold the same views now, in contrast to Ahmadinejad, who regularly parrots them whenever he gets a chance.

    1. Given that the right of return is used as the trojan horse to destroy Jewish statehood, it’s clear that Israel is right to oppose it. Having said that, if the Palestinian refugees agreed to come and serve in the army and learn Hebrew (those who were able to do so, of course, like everyone else), I would have no problem accepting their return en masse.

      “Destroy Israel?” How will the exercise of the right of return “destroy” Israel? I wish you and many others using such careless, imprecise language would take greater care. What you really mean to say is that it will unalterably change the demographic makeup of the Jewish state and force it to come to terms with something it has always refused to do: that it expelled 700,000 Arabs from Israel in 1948 in a primal national sin.

      You also conveniently neglect to acknowledge that both the Geneva Accord and Saudi Initiative propose amending the terms for exercising the Right of Return so that most refugees would receive financial compensation and not physically return (though some would). This exercise of the Right of Return would not “destroy” Israel, though it would allow it to come to terms in at least a basic way with the crime it committed in expelling its Arab inhabitants.

      As for compelling a native of pre-1948 Israel to learn Hebrew as a condition for returning, I find that notion laughable. Should we make it a condition for Native Americans to attain U.S. citizenship that they learn to speak English? Keep in mind these Arab refugees are people who lived in this land long before you or most Israelis did. What right do you have to impose on them a language that is alien to them? This is precisely the problem I have with the condesenscion of these sorts of ideas. BTW, should we also compel them to root for Betar Yerushalayim? Why not compel them to paint their homes (if they have one) blue and white with a Jewish star?

  35. Richard – I’m not questioning the extent of the destruction – I’m saying if it was a ‘free-for-all’, i.e. kill and destroy whoever and whatever you want, a hell of a lot more people would have been killed, and many more places destroyed.

    As for right of return, even Noam Chomsky acknowledges that large-scale implementation of the right of return would see Israel become an Arab state. That would mean the destruction of Israel, although it wouldn’t necessarily entail physical harm to its Jewish citizens.

    Do you support the implementation of the right of return? There’s nothing ‘convenient’ about my neglecting to acknowledge Geneva etc – if that settlement is supported by the various peoples of the land, I will support it too.

    Some of the Arab refugees lived on this land long before I did; some are the grandchildren of those who lived on this land long before I did. I don’t believe that bestows inherent rights, anymore than I should have inherent rights when it comes to Germany or Poland.

    You are right about Hebrew – I didn’t mean for it to come out as a prerequisite. What I meant was some way of securing the recognition of the returnees that the country was a Hebrew-speaking democracy (although Arabic should also be privileged). I see no other way of understanding the provision of ‘willing to live in peace with their neighbours’. If you’re coming to change the polity, you’re not willing to live in peace.

    1. if that settlement is supported by the various peoples of the land, I will support it too.

      I think Geneva & the Saudi initiative are the real hopes for ending this conflict. I’m glad to hear that you would support them if Israelis & Palestinians would too, though it would be nice to have you support it NOW, rather than waiting to see that others support it later.

      I don’t believe that bestows inherent rights,

      You don’t believe if I lived in Jaffa in 1948 & was physically expelled that this bestows “inherent rights” on me?

      although Arabic should also be privileged

      I’m glad to hear that. I agree with you.

  36. Well I do – broadly speaking – support the Geneva Accords now. I just don’t think it’s realistic at this point in time.
    RE. Jaffa – I don’t think it gives me any inherent rights to change the polity of the state, although it should give me rights vis-a-vis my property and the wrong that was done to me, on an individual level.

    1. If you’re coming to change the polity, you’re not willing to live in peace.

      But that was exactly what revisionist Zionism was about, wasn’t it? Jews came to Palestine to create a Jewish state, and in a land where the existing population is about 95% non-Jewish, that means changing the polity. That’s not changed by the fact that Palestine wasn’t a sovereign Palestinian state but a province of the Ottoman Empire, and then under British mandate. Neither did the fact that some millennia ago Jews had ruled the land give the newcomers any inherent rights.
      So why should the Jewish population between the sea and the river enjoy national and political collective rights while Palestinians are reduced to individual owners of property?

  37. Well I think that both Palestinians and Jews should have national and political collective rights, but not one at the expense of the other, hence the need for a sensible partition (hopefully leading to a more integrated solution in the long-term).

  38. Well, Peter, I think you’re overly concerned with the Holocaust. It’s not forbidden territory, but analogies should be accurate, and I’ve seen nothing here to suggest that the Warsaw Ghetto analogy is.
    As for Gaza, I think that the discourse between left and righ or zionist and anti-zionist or however you want to phrase it would be improved when both sides acknowledged that the following two statements can be simultaneously true.
    1) Israel does a number of terrible things.
    2. Israeli bad deeds are exaggerated.

    2 does not exclude 1; 1 does not exclude 2, yet most discourse is built around the assumption that one excludes the other.

  39. Richard – is there any chance I can be taken off moderation? It’s a bit frustrating to post responses to people only for them to be seen ten hours later.

    1. I’m trying to figure out why you’re being moderated. I can’t find either yr e mail or IP in my moderation list. Is it possible that you’re using dynamic IP? If so, my blog is set up to moderate all first time IPs, which would be why your comments are being moderated.

    1. I think this comment was moderated as well & not published immediately. But it should’ve been since I approved a comment of yours yesterday fr. this IP. I’m a little befuddled why you’re in moderation given that you’re using the same IP as last night. I’ll look more closely at my moderation list to see if any of the IPs you use are still in there. But I already checked last night & they weren’t as far as I could tell.

      But I do apologize for the inconvenience.

  40. Richard – I don’t know what you mean by recognising Hamas. I am talking in formal terms – the international system works via recognition. The idea that Israel has to recognise Hamas is as meaningless as saying Iran should recognise Israel’s right to exist. Israel has done deals with the Palestinians over the issue of recognition – deals which unfortunately (and for this Israel has to take a large share of the responsibility) haven’t made much progress beyond the stage of rhetoric, but Hamas can’t even bring themselves to make that rhetorical commitment.

    But if we were to accept your formulation, how would we get out of the morass? What if I said “Israel has no obligation to recognise Hamas unless and until Hamas is willing to recognise Israel”?

    1. the international system works via recognition.

      I don’t know what this means. It sounds like a definitive statement, but is empty of meaning.

      I find it odd that you say that Hamas must recognize Israel, but Israel has no such obligation to recognize Hamas. And I don’t have a clue what you mean by “formal terms.” The PLO did not recognize Israel before it began negotiating with Israel. Why change the rules solely for Hamas?

      I don’t believe either party needs to recognize the other BEFORE they negotiate. The goal of negotiations is to get to recognition & acceptance of ea. other. But this may not be a precondition (unless you merely want to set up terms that destroy the chance of any negotiation happening).

  41. Wikipeida is good on the issue of recognition

    Somehow, Hamas have to show that they acknowledge the right of Israel to sovereignty over part of the land – one per cent would do for me. Now Israel has done that – unfortunately it’s only shown it’s willing to create a Palestinian bantustan, but I believe that to be more than what Hamas are prepared to accept (the odd contrary statement to the western media notwithstanding, which should of course be pursued seriously by concerned third parties). There’s no point in embarking on negotiations in Hamas if there is no possibility to end the conflict. Long-term truces are pointless; it would be better to stay in the OPT than to go down that road.

    1. There’s no point in embarking on negotiations in Hamas if there is no possibility to end the conflict. Long-term truces are pointless; it would be better to stay in the OPT than to go down that road.

      Just when I was beginning to believe you actually had a few good things, informative things to say about the conflict, you prove me wrong. A long-term truce is what Hamas is offering w/o any negotiations haven’t happened yet. For you to make the horrible statement that you’d rather continue Israel’s heinous Occupation because Hamas doesn’t offer you what you want BEFORE there’s been ANY negotiations is ridiculous. I’m sorry you don’t recognize that.

  42. Well first of all Hamas’ statements about a truce fall into the category of their contrary statements to western media etc – I hope the Obama administration will pursue them to find out how serious they are. I’m a believer in 242, which means land for peace. Withdrawing from the OPT without a peace deal would be a strategic liability. Israel needs to pursue policies that will get Palestinian consensus on something along the lines of a Geneva Accords. This means stopping settlement expansion, removing checkpoints etc etc. But, given what’s happened in Gaza and Lebanon, unilateral withdrawal wouldn’t be very sensible.

  43. A minor correction to your translation of the excerpt from Zamir’s article (and you might consider including the link to the Hebrew original) – he doesn’t say an “innocent Arab civilian” but “innocent Western citizen”.

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