Brainless in Gaza (Israel v. Palestine).

Will this ever end ? One theory going around on my side of the Great Pond is that the Israelis are involved in a process of “mowing the grass”, that is to say, that Israel deems it desirable to attack Hamas in Gaza every few years to degrade their military capacity without eliminating them. It is necessary not to eliminate them at the moment (1) because their continued existence divides to Palestinian Authority/government, to Israel’s (?) advantage and (2) because, at the moment, they could easily be replaced by something worse - the crazy but intelligent Caphilist jihadis. The practical result - as usual - is that hapless and trapped Palestinian civilians suffer severe (and unlawful) collective punishment, while Hamas retreats to its safe bunkers, emerging only to fire rockets at Israeli territory without any apparent inconvenience.

How many times have we been through this ? Merely talking about meaningful negotiations (in which Israel seeks “compromise” that would inevitably “compromise” Palestinian rights already supported by international law) will come to nothing substantial, as long as Israel’s backers in the West continue to pump cash into the Israeli “Defence” Forces.

Anyone who has read my various posts In Here will know that I am no anti-Semite. But it seems to me that Israel has been allowed to hide behind the Anti-Semitism bogeyman for far too long. This is a distortion of Zionism. It has, is, and will continue to cause disproportionate suffering, unlawfully inflicted, on Palestinians until Israel’s backers “man up”, and face the bogeyman of Anti-Semitism down. Yours in despair, JR.


:tank:This affair is becoming more farcical as quickly as it becomes more disastrous. At this stage, large parts of urban Gaza have been reduced to rubble. Literally. Maybe this is not carried on Fox News but, believe me, rubble. Meanwhile, Israeli evasions have reached a new level of incredibility, as the IDF claims that Hamas was actually responsible for rocketing a Gazan hospital because they “misdirected” their rockets. Breathtaking. Admittedly, not all Hamas rockets are primitive solid-fuelled jobs directly descended from WW2 Soviet artillery projectiles with which we all In Here are familiar; however, they are all relatively simple, and proceed on the basis that they travel in the direction in which they are pointed. Oh well. I suppose that the grass-mowing exercise must be close to completion. Roll on the next episode - I would give it four years at most … JR.

1,200 (mainly civilian) fatalities; uncounted casualties; facilities reduced to rubble. Israel is indeed fully entitled to defend itself; however, its present activities in Gaza go way beyond what is proportionate to the “threat”, and amounts to collective punishment of the hapless Palestinian population. Collective punishment (albeit proportionate) may have been lawful during WW2; it is absolutely unlawful under international law now. Israel seems to be (politically) addicted to “smiting” its neighbours with impunity. Perhaps its enablers should consider how this makes them look … JR.


I think Israel has long since decided (with more than a little justification) that the vast majority of the rest of the world is going to be against them no matter what they do, and a few countries (notably the US) can be brought on side with deft handling. It’s notable that in the US all the media coverage is about the actions of Hamas, hiding rockets in schools and digging tunnels into Israel - the Israelis are really running a superb media ops campaign in the US at the moment.
As for my own personal attitude…

Hamas are clearly committing war crimes (attacking civilian targets indiscriminately, not carrying their arms openly, using Palestinian civilians as human shields, etc.), Israel may or may not be: there is clear military necessity since they’ve been under attack for some time, they’re doing what they can with the distinction with Hamas deliberately hiding among civilians to make that hard, but the proportionality seems to me to be difficult to justify given the threat we’ve seen so far.

I’ll write my essay entitled “Why the rest of the world should withdraw all support from the Middle East in general, and Israel in particular, and throw a blanket over the whole lot of the bastards until they’ve exhausted themselves slaughtering each other and seen the light of true peace” some other time.

I share the dismay and disgust of all right thinking people at the misery being visited upon the innocent Palestinian civilians by Hamas and Israel, but it is curious that those of us who can justify, or at least not condemn, the Allied bombing of civilian cities in Europe and Japan, where vastly worse horrors were inflicted upon millions of people, are upset by the current, and relative to WWII trivial, suffering in Gaza.

I suspect it’s similar to being able to watch the usual collection of death, destruction, misery and general human ugliness on the nightly news while calmly eating a meal but being significantly distressed if seeing in the real world a dog, let alone a human, run over and badly injured. WWII is distant to us, but Gaza is closer to our reality.

Unlike WWII, we’re not automatically aligned with one side and hostile to the other, so perhaps part of the reason we’re so disgusted with the conflict in Gaza is that, as pdf27’s meme says, we’re simply human.

Another reason we’re disgusted may be that we expect better of the Israelis because, like the white South Africans during the Apartheid era, they’re like us. There is an implicit racism in this, because it requires us to expect better of people like us but not of necessarily lesser peoples, such as rabid ratbag Islamic jihadists, Arabs, black Africans and so on, because their habitual violence and contempt for human life is all we expect of them. Which results in justified condemnation of the Israelis for their inhumane attacks on innocent and defenceless Palestinians, especially children, but nothing comparable for Hamas in this conflict or worse actions and often atrocities in other conflicts around the globe.

Separately, why is Hamas fighting what it knew was going to be a losing battle before it started, and which could only visit death and destruction on its own people? And the answer is, I suspect: Because Hamas was losing the support of its own people and becoming irrelevant so, conforming with basic revolutionary theory, it confected circumstances which increase oppression of its own people by its enemy, thus generating support for it and increasing hostility to its enemy. I can’t think of a better way to do that than to create a stream of dead and injured children creating local and international disgust and contempt for the Israelis. The following photo of a little girl rendered naked by napalm burning off her clothes, with her brother to the left who lost an eye, did more to undermine Western presence in and conduct of the war in Vietnam than countless reasoned arguments over many years.


As for the Israelis, they’ve never let an opportunity pass to undermine their supposed desire for peace by intentionally sabotaging themselves, and thus demonstrating their consistent hypocrisy, with contemporaneous expansion of their settlements and or other insults to the Palestinians.

Now, where can I find a blanket big enough to throw over the lot of the bastards and let them slaughter each other until …

The Arab nations have as much to blame as the Israeli and Palestinians themselves, for them it was useful to ignore the 1948 partition as they believed their armies would crush the fledgling jewish state, even the British as they withdrew believed it was true and they had no love for the Jews in Palestine having been fighting a terrorist war against them through WW2 and until final withdrawl in 1948.

When the Arab nations were defeated and the existence of Israel was cemented - the Arab nations kept the Palestinian refugees in camps, armed them, trained them and fermented nationalism, so much so that the Palestinians actually became problems for the host nations (Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon) causing wars between Arab nations (notably Syria and Palestinians when Syria drove them into the Lebanon so dragging that country into over 10 years of destruction).

The East and West notable the US and USSR also played their part using it as a proxy war to test new equipment and tactics, to aquire the latest foreign equipment.

Now you have Palestinians who do not want peace and so will bring down destruction on their own people to keep their support and hatred of Israel, the mass media nealry always focusses on Israeli actions as they have the strong modern visible army, the Palestinians in contrast hide in the civil population, hide their weapons amongst them with not thought to any international law.

Israel is a small country with a small population and can not afford the backlash of large numbers of troops killed in city clearance operations (just look at US casualties in Iraq in the citys and the backlash internationally and at home).

Its too easy to sit back at home and say omg the Israelis have done this or that when they have never faced the situation themselves or had their sons in them. I have been in urban combat both conventional and against terrorist/insurgent forces that fade into the civil population.

There is intransience on both sides as well as genuine wishes for peace but when I look at it the Palestinians have the upper hand on the media front as the Israelis have always been closed lipped about their military.

Very little has also been mentioned that the Palestinians do not just want a deal from Israel but from Egypt which so far has steadfastly refused to even entertain it (after all why get involved when the israelis and drawing the Palestinian problem towards them).

Actually, it’s simpler than that. Hamas are great friends with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (they share a common ancestry). After the military takeover, the Muslim Brotherhood are about as popular as plague rats with the new Egyptian Government - and hence Hamas are too. The border with Egypt has been cut off for some time, meaning Hamas’s military strength is a waning asset. They’re in use it or lose it territory - and being fundamentalist idiots, when Israel started an operation to destroy the tunnels they’ve suddenly realised go across the border (this isn’t a small smuggling operation - some of them are reportedly large enough to drive a car down, and they appear in Israeli towns and allegedly even terminate under schools in some cases) decided to use what arsenal they have to attack Israel before it is destroyed. When Hamas run out of rockets, things will probably quiet right down and the diplomats will congratulate themselves on making peace.

That analysis is reminiscent of Japan’s impulse to go to war because oil embargoes threatened its ability to sustain a war. The difference is that Japan had good prospects of success, at least on its own assessment, but Hamas has none on any assessment.

Which makes it all the worse for Hamas to bring death and destruction to its people, to no purpose.

I wouldn’t disagree with your general appreciation of the history of the Palestinians, except your references to “the Palestinians” as if they’re a united group with a single leadership when they’ve been fragmented by various power struggles by people and groups claiming to represent their interests by political, military and terrorist activities.

As you mention about the way the Palestinians have been treated by Arab nations, the poor bloody Palestinians are, ironically, the equivalent of the poor bloody Jews in Europe at various times, confined to their ghettos and abused and exploited by others outside their Palestinian ghettos known as refugee camps.

I doubt that there is a genuine and realistic desire for peace by the political leadership on either side, as distinct from what the ordinary people on each side might want. The Israeli leadership really wants unconditional surrender while purporting to want peace at the same time it does everything it can to sabotage a lasting peace, such as by expanding settlements. The Palestinian leaderships have had different aims at different times, but whatever they want they’re not going to get back one square millimetre of land from the Israeli leadership. It’s an intractable problem and it will continue for the foreseeable future.

Oddly enough, the best, albeit still quite remote, current prospect for a moderately durable peace might be the emergence and expansion of the ISIL Caliphate, which threatens Arab nations as much as, quite possibly more than, it threatens Israel. This could see the odd case of Israel making common cause with Arab nations against ISIL in the interests of mutual survival, which in turn could see the Palestinian issue being resolved between Israel and the Arab nations as part of the agreement to cooperate. But I wouldn’t hold my breath, because the golden thread in the Middle East for many decades since the Ottomans and European colonialists departed has been that the place is cauldron of religious, ethnic and tribal intolerance, treachery and brutality which seems to work best only when a strongman like Saddam, and perhaps the new and self appointed Caliph, is running the show.