Israel at War

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Thinking back, trying to recreate my conversations with worried friends about this war with Lebanon, about the Iranian missiles, the Syrian machinations and the assumption that Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has the ability to strike any place in the country, even Tel Aviv, I realize that there was a small gleam in almost everyone’s eyes, a kind of unconscious breath of relief.

And no, it’s not that we Israelis long for war or death or grief, but we do long for those “old days??? the taxi driver talked about. We long for a real war to take the place of all those exhausting years of intifada when there was no black or white, only gray…

Etgar Keret, The Way We War, The New York Times, July 18, 2006
Men at a table in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, July 26, 2006 [DDanzig / Flickr]

The American-Israeli blogger Alison Kaplan Sommer wrote on July 25 that her Israeli husband is reminded of the summer of 1982, when there was also war and World Cup soccer. Israel has to fight a war every decade or so; every citizen spends at least two years in military service, and a grudging acceptance of the inevitable return of war seems part of what it means to be Israeli.

Is this, as Etgar Keret suggests, a better war, a clearer war for Israel? A war like the ones they remember, in 1967, in 1973? Israel has perched on the edge of the sea for most of a century now; what does it do to a country to live under the threat of violence, and with the need to strike back hard, for four generations? On our own blog Potter — with close family herself in Israel — writes:

There is no “once and for all??? here. To think so is clueless. Israel may fight so “hard and furiously??? for survival in the wrong way that it may accomplish the opposite: destroy itself.

Potter, in a comment to Open Source, July 25, 2006

War, of course, can’t define an entire country. There is dancing yet in Tel Aviv, people falling in love in Haifa. But is it possible to use the lens of this war with Hamas and Hezbollah to take a picture of a country under constant pressure?

Ari Shavit

Political essayist, Haaretz

Gadi Taub

Professor of communications and public policy, Hebrew University

Writer and essayist

Allison Kaplan Sommer

Associate Editor, Israel21c

Blogger, An Unsealed Room and Isreality

Extra-Credit Reading List

Guest, A Letter to Lebanese Reporter, OneJerusalem, 7/29/06

Idan, A Window into Israel, Pixane, 7/16/06 (from Israelity)

rockofgalilee, a trip to the front lines, Galilee This:, 7/26/06 (from Israelity)

Etgar Keret, The Way We War, The New York Times, 7/18/06

James Carroll, New conflicts in an old war in the Middle East, The Boston Globe, 7/17/06

Deborah Solomon, A Haifa Life, The New York Times, 7/30/06

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  • fiddlesticks

    “Is this, as Etgar Keret suggests, a better war, a clearer war for Israel?”

    This is a question for Israelis and not for armchair commenters on a blog in Boston.

    btw: Who is Potter and why is he being quoted? What special knowledge does tha poster have about the war against the Jewish State?

    Open source is carrying on its own war against the Jewish State.

  • scribe5

    Here is an article from ynet news which is on topic:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3280348,00.html

    “Why they love to hate us: Some 1,500 years of anti-Semitism have taught us that there is something about us that annoys the world”

    Yair Lapid

    [The rest of this post contained copyrighted material and was removed. Check out the commenting guidelines. – ed.]

  • scribe5

    Yair Lapid would make an excellent guest.

  • I agree with Potter and I cite Newton’s third law of motion…

    III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    If Israel is under pressure it is in direct relationship to the pressure it is exerting. According to Newton’s law if Israel turns up the pressure there is bound to be a reaction of equal proportion.

  • Brendan

    This is a question for Israelis and not for armchair commenters on a blog in Boston.

    We “armchair commenters” have been calling Israel for the last two days to put Israeli voices on the air, scribe5. It’s what we do. We’re a radio show. We put people on the air, ask them questions, and listen while they answer.

    As for who Potter is, she’s a generous and smart voice on this blog; her take on Israel or anything, for that matter, is as welcome as yours or anyone else’s.

  • In response to comments made by Howard Dean defending Israel’s “right to defend itself” in Lebanon.

    Mitchell Plitnick of the San Francisco-based Jewish Voice for Peace said: “Israel opens itself up to legitimate criticism with its killing of so many civilians on top of 39 years of occupation of Palestinian lands. It is shameful to hide these misdeeds behind specious accusations of anti-Semitism. Mr. Dean and others like him belittle centuries of Jewish suffering by using accusations of anti-Semitism to shield Israel from legitimate criticism.�

    From today’s Democracy Now…

    http://www.democracynow.org/

  • scribe5

    I’ll take Howard Dean’s view over that of Plitnick’s any day of the week.

  • scribe5

    Here is another article on the current war by a prominent Israeli peace activist and writer:

    “Hezbollah Attacks Unite Israelis

    The usual domestic divide dissolves in the face of rockets.

    By Amos Oz, AMOS OZ is an Israeli novelist and essayist. His most recent work is “How to Cure a Fanatic.”

    July 19, 2006

    MANY TIMES in the past, the Israeli peace movement has criticized Israeli military operations. Not this time. This time, the battle is not over Israeli expansion and colonization. There is no Lebanese territory occupied by Israel. There are no territorial claims from either side.

    Last Wednesday, Hezbollah launched a vicious, unprovoked attack into Israeli territory. This was also an attack on the authority and integrity of the elected Lebanese government, as Hezbollah has, by attacking Israel, hijacked the prerogative of the Lebanese government to control its territory and to make decisions on war and peace….”

    Read the whole aticle

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-oz19jul19,0,4509327.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

  • fiddlesticks

    Brendan,

    “We “armchair commentersâ€? have been calling Israel for the last two days to put Israeli voices on the air, scribe5. It’s what we do. We’re a radio show. We put people on the air, ask them questions, and listen while they answer.

    Your are confusing “scribe5” with my post, Brendan.

    “As for who Potter is, she’s a generous and smart voice on this blog; her take on Israel or anything, for that matter, is as welcome as yours or anyone else’s.”.

    I wasn’t saying that Potter shouldn’t be welcomed. I was asking why you privileged her post by quoting it over those of people who oppose her views.

    As a moderator, shouldn’t you be quoting both sides of an issue?

  • Brendan

    As a moderator, shouldn’t you be quoting both sides of an issue?

    This is not a show about whether Israel is right or wrong, it’s very clearly a show about what the constant threat of war does to a society; Potter’s comment touched on that from one angle, Etgar Keret’s op-ed from another. This post begins, in fact, with two paragraphs from Keret, making a case that Israel is relieved to be fighting a just war. I’m having a hard time, honestly, understanding how this betrays a bias, let alone “a war on the Jewish state.”

    If you’re truly worried that we’re getting this wrong, help us out. If you disagree with Potter, write a paragraph explaining why. If you think Israel isn’t a state under the constant threat of war, write a paragraph explaining why. If you think that the constant threat of war hasn’t affected Israel, well, you know what to do.

  • fiddlesticks

    Brendan, I don’t understand your last comment. What is it that you think I shold do?

    The comment by Potter, on the other hand,

    “There is no “once and for allâ€? here. To think so is clueless. Israel may fight so “hard and furiouslyâ€? for survival in the wrong way that it may accomplish the opposite: destroy itself.” Potter, in a comment to Open Source, July 25, 2006

    isn’t a rational view point, it’s a bumper sticker comment. Why does he or whe think that Israel is fighting “the wrong way?” What is the right way?

    I also don’t know who believes that there is a “once and for all” in the Jewish States fight for survival?

    Keret’s comments, on the other hand, denote a first hand experience with the problem they are not abstract. I can’t agree or disagree with them, though I recongize that other people may experience the concern over rocket attacks differently. I also know that Keret is a witty fiction writer who looks for ironies in every day life. I read his comments in that spirit. I didn’t take it as describing a universally truth in Israeli society.

    I don’t agree therefore that these two comments are commensurate or that they touched on different angles of the same dilemma.

  • fiddlesticks

    “I’m having a hard time, honestly, understanding how this betrays a bias, let alone “a war on the Jewish state.â€?”

    The bias I see in all these programs here is that there is the unspoken assumption that Israel is in the wrong. It’s in the wrong for the way it responded to Hezbollah’s attacks, that it is in the wrong for responding at all, in fact that it is in the wrong for even existing.

    I am yet to hear a program that offers us the perspective of the vast majority of Israelis who support the Israeli governments war against Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on Israel, ( the single program you had was also a covert critique of the Israeli governments handling of the crisis) just as you had a number of programs with Arab guests offering their perspective on the crisis.

  • Potter

    I did not think israel was in the wrong for responding to the attacks, Fiddlesticks. I just reached a point where I felt that the response was hurting Israel. I want Israel to win and to survive. I have a deep love for Israel. But loving Israel, just like loving this country does not mean that you have to agree with everything that it does. Israel’s strength is that everyone argues and criticizes. Here this is not allowed without shouts of “anti-semite” or “self-hating Jew” or simple objections to one person’s opinion being singled out like your objection to mine. It’s not normal or healthy.

    What makes mine rise above? Maybe it’s that I have been to Israel, I have loved ones there and I have connected deeply not only to the land but to my own history. That I have not come out exactly where you have is okay with me. I do not object to your voice here. Why do you object to mine? I’d like to know.

    My last comment here: http://www.radioopensource.org/lebanon-what-happened-to-the-cedar-revolution/#comment-14022

    represents an evolution in me regarding this current crisis. There are several posts on that thread from me- and I finally get back to my old self, the one who has been sticking her nose into this since 1967 when I woke up to this saga as something that I am connected to but very troubled by. Then Ben Gurion visited the US and spoke and I was in the audience at Yeshiva U. I couldn’t understand a word of it, but I had goosebumps.

    I was as upset about the Hezbollah provocation and pro beating the s–t out of them as you and others are here. Then I saw, what israeli’s are not seeing, the pictures of the devastastion, the old men and women and children in incredible pain and I connected that to the suffering that Jews have gone through. Yes I blamed and still blame Hezbollah and Hamas for the suffering of their own people but I also ask how can we get out of this? Who wants it? Who needs it?

  • Potter

    The “once and for all” is about beating the other side, treaching them a lesson to the point where they totally submit. Sharon embodied that strategy towards the Palestinians. At the end he realized that this is not possible and it was taking Israel down in the process- Israel was not winning. What happened with the Palestinians is that it made them stronger and more resistant.

    With Hezbollah they have reached a point where it’s already beyond anything that an Israeli military campaign can handle. So maybe it’s time to get smarter

    Stop Now, Immediately

  • houstonDave

    I’d like to get to the central core principle of this and previous Arab-Israeli conflicts.

    Simply ask one of the Arab guests, point blank:

    ARE JEWS WORTHY OF HAVING A STATE?

    I’m sure the members of the extremist groups will immediately say “no,” but it would be interesting to find out exactly how many of the rest of the Arab population will hold this racist view. I think it would go a little something like this:

    Chris: Fawad Gerges, yes or no, are Jews worthy of having a state?

    Gerges:

    Hizbollah, Hamas and Al-Qaeda have certain ideas in common, primary among these is Islamic Supremacy. The believe that Muslims are a superior race and that Christians, Jews and other “infidels” are inferior. It is “humiliating” for those inferior Jews to run their very own country (where Muslims have merely EQUAL rights!) It’s funny how the “humiliation” of the majorities in Jordan under a Hashemite minority, in Syria under and Alouite minority and, until recently, in Iraq under a Baathist Sunni minority are never a cause for any action or protest.

    In America, White Supremacist groups are considered evil lunatics unworthy of having their foul racism considered by the vast majority of the population. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation make white losers feel good about themselves by scapegoating other races and religions.

    We got a little hint of that today when Al-Qaeda’s #2, Ayman al-Zawahri, said that Islam must prevail “from Iraq to Spain.” According to the Islamic Supremacists, Jews and Christians can only exist in Muslim lands by accepting “dhimmi” status (clear second-class citizen) or else.

    The Arab World has more land than the entire United States of America, yet it is constantly up in arms over a piece of land about the size of New Jersey! The “Palestinian” people are objects of their concern only when they are hassling Jews, but when they come to their “brothers'” countries, they are refused citizenship (even after many generations) and treated poorly. The Arab pettiness is clearly driven by hatred for Jews –they have more than enough land and resources to absorb the so-called Palestinians who don’t want to live in that area. What did they do with all of the homes and possessions of the approximately one million Jews who were expelled from Arab countries in 1948?

    Why don’t the Palestinians just go to Transjordan Palestine like the British arranged after deciding that the 3/4 of the Jewish homeland promised in the Balfour Declaration go to Arabs? Oh, because they shortened the name to Jordan and handed it over to a dynasty of Hashemite princes!

    The Western world did not accept the open racism of the apartheid regime in South Africa and it eventually collapsed. We should be as steadfast against the open racism of Hamas, Hizbollah, Al-Qaeda, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. Once they recognize the equality of peoples of all religions, they will be taking a step towards being included in the world community.

  • Just some brief answers to that houstonDave’s post: Lisa Mullins of the PRI Program The World on Wednesday. I’m having trouble playing the clip, but her last questions went like this: “Do you believe Israel has a right to exist?” His answer: “It exists.”

    Otherwise, I am 100% in defense of Potter here, and of Brendan, for that matter.

    Let me propose a way of reconciling this conundrum, that any mention of Israel summons the bias-detectors.

    Can we conceive of Zionism without the other, without the Arab? The steadfast Zionist most certainly has entertained this as fantasy. The seeking Zionist looks for a Zion defined beyond the wars.

    Another way of asking it, must the tree of Zion always be watered by the blood of patriots and of tyrants?

    Reflecting on the show a the other night I suppose our archetypes are David and Solomon. David is the great warrior who unites the monarchy and establishes Jerusalem. But he is forbidden to build the Temple; that is left for his son Solomon. The bibilical reign of Solomon, according to the liturgy, is perhaps the last time there is peace in the Land.

  • Potter

    houstonDave You drag out the old argument “why don’t they all go live in Jordanâ€? which I interpret as hidden greed for more land. (Correct me if I am wrong).

    This is what keeps the horror show going (and worsening).

    A lot of what you say is true about Arab/Muslim treatment/use of their own brothers, especially now Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. I say take the cause away from them!

    Israel exists primarily because of Christian persecution through the ages culminating in the Holocaust. Israel’s strength was bolstered by rejection and wars with the Arab/Muslims. So much of the world created Israel. In turn Israel, created the Palestinians, or Palestinian nationalism.

    There was a displacement and there was racism. Displacement and racism against Jews, displacement and racism against Arab/Palestinians.

    It should be stipulated ( by now) that all that live there have a connection to and belong on that land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. We can argue about the quality of both connections but it’s not worth arguing about because they are different and equally valid. If those both sides do not see that, they will have to arrive at that place for there to be peace and normal life. There is not all the time in the world for that to happen either so I hate to see the old arguments popping up.

    These periodic outbursts from Zawahiri/Bin Laden don’t represent the entire Muslim/Arab world. These are cries for attention as well as a lure, psyops, war talk. They need our reaction. Best to ignore I think.

  • jdyer

    “Can we conceive of Zionism without the other, without the Arab? The steadfast Zionist most certainly has entertained this as fantasy. The seeking Zionist looks for a Zion defined beyond the wars.”

    Let me put in my two cents, here. Jon, The question is interesting, but it applies also to the Arabists.

    If the Arab is the Zionist’s other then the Jew (ans the Christian) is the Arab’s other. Arabs have had a difficult time dealing with his other(s) for over a thousand years.

    Zionists understood from the very beginning that there were Arabs living in the land of Israel and their fantasy wasn’t that he wasn’t there or that he would disappear. The fantasy had to do with their belief that a Jewish State would be able to live in peace with the Arabs.

    When Herzl spoke of a land without “a people” he didn’t mean that there were no Arabs there he meant that the people living there were not a distinct nation and that they were part of the Arab world.

    History I am afraid has proven him right.

    You should read the writings of the early Zionists instead of relying on the quotes taken out of context by their detractors.

  • jdyer

    “These periodic outbursts from Zawahiri/Bin Laden don’t represent the entire Muslim/Arab world. These are cries for attention as well as a lure, psyops, war talk. They need our reaction. Best to ignore I think.”

    What was interseting in their latest “outburst” was that Zawahiri included Spain alongside “Palestine” among the lands that needed to be liberated.

    It seems that the Socialist government in Spain hasn’t kowtowed to them enough. They want more. They always want more in the name of “peace.”

  • houstonDave

    Potter,

    You couldn’t be more wrong about your “hidden greed for land” inference. My demand is that the people that live adjacent to Israel accept that it has a right to exist in peace. My wish is that there be trade and travel within the region, but I realize that this is not likely.

    Your analysis of the creation of the modern state of Israel is shallow and biased. The “plan” for the Jews to live in Israel is over 3000 years old (predating the birth of Islam by about 2000 years), but even if you don’t accept the Bible (Old Testament, for some of you) as being, in part, a historical document, the history of the Jews in Israel is corroborated with archaeological evidence and the literature of other ancient cultures like the Romans and Greeks.

    The ancient history notwithstanding, the modern Zionist movement was triggered not by the Holocaust, but by the Dreyfus Affair in about 1895. While Christian persecution of Jews in Europe is well-known, life for Jews in Muslim societies was no picnic. There were some massacres, but the permanent “dhimmi” status of non-Muslims in those countries was oppressive.

    I don’t agree to your stipulation that all have an equally valid connection to the land. The invention of the “Palestinian” nationality was Plan B after the Arabs’ 4 wars against Israel failed to accomplish their objections. The Arabs were Goliath and Israel was David, but then the Arabs got clever and called a small subset of themselves Palestinians to become the mini-David. Surveys of the land that became Israel in the 19th century showed that the land was virtually uninhabited and a census of Jerusalem in the 1860’s showed that about half the residents were Jews. I mention these two facts for two reasons: 1) There was no Palestinian nation in existence before the Zionist movement tried to re-establish the Jewish state, and 2) the widely-held belief that Israel was formed by simply dumping concentration camp survivors on a bunch of peace-loving Arabs is flat wrong.

    Most people are misled about the conflict in the Middle East by seeing the map that shows only Lebanon and Israel. To discuss the conflict the map should go from Mauritania to Iraq, just to show how petty and nasty the Arabs are being. They hold more than 600 times the amount of land as Israel does (with about 50 to 60 times the population). The message should be if Arabs want to live in peace in Israel, they are welcome (there are about a million Arab citizens of Israel and are represented in the Knesset. Number of Jews in Saudi Arabia: Zero), and if they can’t, there’s plenty more land in other neighborhoods!

    Finally, I am glad that my original question:

    ARE JEWS WORTHY OF HAVING A STATE?

    hasn’t been answered yet. The silence sends a vey strong signal.

  • jdyer

    “houstonDave You drag out the old argument “why don’t they all go live in Jordanâ€? which I interpret as hidden greed for more land. (Correct me if I am wrong).

    This is what keeps the horror show going (and worsening).”

    Well, the conflict, let’s be honest here isn’t just about land. If it were it could have been settled in 1948. The Muslim Arabs can’t tolerate and independent Jewish State no matter how small anywhere in the land of Israel.

    Personally, I believe that a two State solution is the only answer to a permanent peace, but Palestinians haven ‘t been able to set up their own State yet and Israel isn’t at fault.

    I hope that in the near future they will be able to do so. This, though, isn’t something anyone else can do for them. The other alternative would be for them to be reabsorbed into Jordan and Egypt as they had been before 1967.

    A loose federation might be set up consisting of Jordan and the West Bank and perhaps Gaza ruled by the Jordanian monarchy which offers the only hope of stability and legitimacy in such an enterprise.

    I certainly wouldn’t like to see the Palestinians in Jordan overthrowing the monarchy there and setting up a “Palestinian State.� That would be a recipe for “eternal war� between Palestine and Israel.

    Moreover given the ambitions of Iran and Syria the prospect of another Lebanon in Jordan would be catastrophic for the whole region.

  • jdyer

    “Your analysis of the creation of the modern state of Israel is shallow and biased.”

    I don’t think her analysis is too shallow or biased, Dave. I do think that it relies too much on psychology and morality and not enough on realistic geo strategic and historical considerations.

  • jdyer

    Zeev Schiff who was on radioopensource just the following in Haaretz.

    from haaretz.com

    “IAF takes out launcher used to fire missiles at Afula area

    By Ze’ev Schiff and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies

    Israel Air Force warplanes on Friday took out the launchers used by Hezbollah to fire a new kind of missile at the Afula area, the furthest south that the guerilla group has reached since it began battering the north of Israel more than two weeks ago.

    The initial investigation revealed that the missile has a range of 90 kilometers. The northern district police said that this kind of missile had not landed in the area before. The level of damage caused by the missile impact and the size of the warhead is also unprecedented, suggesting that it could have weighed up to 100 kilograms.

    Security officials are looking into the possibility that the missile could have originated in Iran, and may even be a Zilzal missile, which has a range of 200 kilometers. Hezbollah has moved some of its rocket and missile launchers further north inside Lebanon following IAF attacks to destroy them.”

    So far the missiles have inflicted relatively minor damage although a missile just hit a nursery wounding some infants.

    If a large number of people were to be killed by a missile strike I am sure the war will enter a deadlier phase with Syria and perhaps Iran being hit by the IAF.

    Nasrallah was just in Syria conferring with its President and with a senior Iranian official. The idea that Israel in fighting only Hezbollah is a fiction and I wish npr would stop talking about it as if it were a war of choice.

  • Potter

    jdyer:It seems that the Socialist government in Spain hasn’t kowtowed to them enough. They want more. They always want more in the name of “peace.�

    Coincidentally Nicholas D. Kristof just wrote on the subject:Spanish Lessons for Israel. They can want what they want., that does not mean reaction have to be what they are- which only helps their cause. See headlines in today’s NYTimes about all the sympathy that Israel had from the hezbollah provocation evaporating. The Arab street is wild, Al Jazeera and other Arab media outlets are fanning the flames and Arab governments, even israel’s friends Egypt and Jordan are condemning Israel. The Us will be pressured by all of this because it has it’s pants down in Iraq.

    Regarding “They always want more in the name of peace” Look who actually has! Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land. But you are conflating Al Qaeda with the Palestinian cause. And this is a big mistake. One you can’t deal with, the other you can. it’s another excuse to hide behind. Perhaps they will merge but we are not there yet. ( Sharon reframed the conflict in these terms after 9/11 and GWB went for it).

  • jdyer

    “Coincidentally Nicholas D. Kristof just wrote on the subject:Spanish Lessons for Israel. They can want what they want., that does not mean reaction have to be what they are- which only helps their cause. See headlines in today’s NYTimes about all the sympathy that Israel had from the hezbollah provocation evaporating.”

    Kristof is not exactly a far seeing columnist.

    As far as world “sympathy” goes, you can’t build a coherent national policy on it.

    It is inevitable when a country that has been attacked will be criticized after it responds to that attack.

    That doesn’t mean that Israel’s response to Hezbollah’s aggression is wrong.

  • jdyer

    “Regarding “They always want more in the name of peaceâ€? Look who actually has! Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land.”

    Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, it withdrew from Gaza recently, it is in the process of evacuating settlements on the West Bank and will withdraw from it at some point. All this has led to more and not fewer attacks by their enemies.

    You are posting yesterday’s news.

    “But you are conflating Al Qaeda with the Palestinian cause. And this is a big mistake. One you can’t deal with, the other you can. it’s another excuse to hide behind. Perhaps they will merge but we are not there yet. ( Sharon reframed the conflict in these terms after 9/11 and GWB went for it).”

    I am not conflating anything and I don’t care about how Sharon or GWB frames this or any conflict.

    I am repeating the words of al Kaida people.

    As for its linkage to the Hamas it’s a fact. Yes, there was no overt link between Saddam and al kaida and Bush was wrong to try and manufacture one. There were many excellenet reason for deposing the dictator but that was not one of them.

    However, Hamas is subgroup of the Muslim Brotherhood and there is an ideological link between Hamas and al Kaida. Hamas also shares a desire to see “Muslim Spain liberated.” Read its founding charter sometime.

    In addition they both share an intense antisemitism and blame the Jews for all the ills of the modern world and not just the “zionists.” It’s ideology is eliminiationist with regard to Jews.

  • Potter

    Howdy houstonDave

    Agreeing to Israel’s “right to exist� is one of the few cards, and a psychological one at that, that Arabs hold in a situation where Israel has the better or upper, hand. As Jon Garfunkel says: “Israel exists�. Period.

    —————-

    I have been to some awesome archeological sites in Israel, most especially Jerusalem and the Galilee. I don’t know where you pick any skepticism from me about Jewish origins. I don’t question the Jewish right to be there either. Yet modern Israel the state would not have happened without the Holocaust and the support of the major western countries, most especially the US and the UN regardless of ancient history, the early Zionists, the Dreyfus Affair, dhimmi status in Muslims lands etc, The Holocaust was the strong force that made it happen. Given the opposition encountered even after the war for the creation of Israel, I don’t think a driving force strong enough would have been there to make it happen prior. I know of no widely held belief that Israel was formed by simply dumping WW2 survivors. That is a distortion as the groundwork was laid decades prior.

    —————–

    I note you do not think Palestinians have an equally valid claim, yet you say there is no hidden greed for land in your suggestion that they all go and live in Jordan which should be all the same to them.

    _____________________________

    Palestinian is the name we now give to the people, mostly Arab who connect profoundly to that particular land since before and shortly after Jews also started arriving from Europe in modern times. They arrived around the same time as the Jews started arriving in the LATE 19TH early 20TH century to help farm/work/build the proposed new state. As well, maybe more significantly, there are many indigenous people “Arabs� who have continuous presence and have family roots that go back hundreds of years. Accepting this as legitimate, I stipulate they have a good strong claim. I don’t want to argue this.

    As there was no Palestiniannation. There was no Jewish nation (in the modern sense) to re-establish. There were always more Arabs than Jews on the land however sparsely populated, except the religious Jewish population (that had no national aspirations) in Jerusalem as you say.

    Both populations grew approximately simultaneously. Jewish national aspirations predated the Palestinian by a few decades. But the both peoples were establishing themselves and more conscious of their nationalist identities roughly concurrently.

    That is not to say that it was not a return for Jews in the Biblical sense. But that is another realm, the spiritual which does not belong in this discussion any more than the Arab claim to all the lands it has ever been in including Spain.

    Re the question- Are Jews worthy of having a state? I don’t like the question! Don’t mistake the silence for a negative answer, it seems to me to be a pitiful question to ask. What are you after?

  • jdyer

    Potter your post

    July 28th, 2006 at 1:43 pm is masterfully evasive about most crucial points we are talking about.

    “Yet modern Israel the state would not have happened without the Holocaust and the support of the major western countries, most especially the US and the UN regardless of ancient history, the early Zionists, the Dreyfus Affair, dhimmi status in Muslims lands etc,…”

    This is and idle pure speculation.

    Had the Holocaust not occured the Jews would have been in a much stronger position and the world would have been a different place.

    The western world only supported Israel diplomatically at the UN and not materially in 1948. NOw the UN itself would not have come into being without WW2 which is to say without the Holocaust. In fact much of the political history of the world since WW2 was the result of the HOlocaust. Can you imagine the success of the civil rights movement in the US without the Holocuast?

    Moreover, the claim of Jews to Israel isn’t just spiritual it is historical and material. There has been a continued presence of Jewish life in that area since antiquity. Jerusalem before 1948 had a majority Jewish population which was driven out when the Arab League conquered it in 1948.

    However, there is another point that is more important:

    Potter said above that the reaosn the Arabs don’t make peace is because “Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land.”

    Would you mind telling me what it was the Jews took away in 1947? Why did they refuse to make peace at that time and whey did they reject the UN partition plan?

  • Potter

    jdyer: Kristof off “not far-seeing”?

    Kristof:

    (quote)More broadly, one reason this bombbardment – like the invasion in 1982 – is against Israel’s long-term interest has to do with the way terrorism is likely to change over the next couple of decades.

    In the past, terror attacks spilled blood and spread fear, but they did not challenge the survival of Israel itself. At some point, though, militant groups will recruit teams of scientists and give them a couple of years and a $300,000 research budget, and the result will be attacks with nerve gas, anthrax or “dirty bombs” that render areas uninhabitable for years.

    All this suggests that the only way for Israel to achieve security is to reach a final peace agreement, involving the establishment of a Palestinian state (because states can be deterred more easily than independent groups like Hamas). Such an agreement is not feasible now, but it might be five or 15 years from now. Israel’s self-interest lies in doing everything it can to make such a deal more likely – not in using force in ways that strengthen militants and make an agreement less likely.(unquote)

    Kristof does not say not to respond at all, he is cautioning against diminishing returns, undermining security in the long run with too much of a response.

  • jdyer

    I noticed you didn’t reply to my post of 2:14 PM

    In any case, about Kristoff’s quote:

    “More broadly, one reason this bombbardment – like the invasion in 1982 – is against Israel’s long-term interest has to do with the way terrorism is likely to change over the next couple of decades.”

    2006 is not 1982 both the long term aims and short terms goals are different.

    Also what is at stake now is also very different. Kristoff’s insights are irrelevant.

    Islamic terrorism is with us willy nilly, and it doesn’t respond it acts.

    The terrorists have their own long and short term agenda and if they even bother to justify their acts to us ifidels it is because they are trying to appeal to “humanistic values” which they otherwise despise.

  • jdyer

    I’ll repeat my question to Potter:

    “Potter said above that the reason the Arabs don’t make peace is because “Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land.â€?

    Would you mind telling me what it was the Jews took away in 1947? Why did they refuse to make peace at that time and whey did they reject the UN partition plan?”

  • Potter

    jdyer- you twist everything I have said to suit your argument. I can’t go on and on with you. I did not say “just” spiritual. Only the Biblical part.

    Jews were quite happy in Germany- certainly not ready to leave en masse. Other Jews who were persecuted chose the US other places to go ( as they had throughout their history). Few went to Palestine.

    The French and the Czechs supported Israe with armsl in 48 war of Independence, contrary to your statement that the support from the western world was only diplomatic . It is much more believable that the UN would have happened w/o WW2, the League of Nations needed to be improved upon, than a state of Israel could have happened without the urgency post WW2. ( This is not my idea, I only agree with it)

    Finally, here is the reason I am not enjoying my discussion with you:

    quoting jdyer: Potter said above that the reaosn the Arabs don’t make peace is because “Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land.�

    I did NOT say that this was the reason Arabs don’t make peace. YOU put that before mine and mischaracterized my quote to suit your argument.

    I said: Regarding “They always want more in the name of peace� Look who actually has! Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land.

    That is to emphasize: always wanting more when they have not got a blessed thing yet, certainly not sovereignty which is what they are fighting for. Instead they have been losing more and more. This is partially their fault, no question, but Israel has been grabbing land as government policy as well. What they always want is not more but what should be theirs legitimately for a state. And I agree they need to show responsibility. But Israel has been grabbing land which is anti-peace. So I think your statement “They always want more in the name of peace” is pretty clueless, actually it reeks of chutzpah.

  • houstonDave

    [b]Potter:[/b] Agreeing to Israel’s “right to exist� is one of the few cards, and a psychological one at that, that Arabs hold. . .

    You call that a CARD? A right to exist should be stipulated! Not the old “from time immemorial” argument that [i]many[/i] Arabs lived in the land that became Israel for hundreds of years. The facts show that the number was actually quite small.

    [b]Potter:[/b] Re the question- Are Jews worthy of having a state? I don’t like the question! Don’t mistake the silence for a negative answer, it seems to me to be a pitiful question to ask. What are you after?

    I think my original post makes it quite clear what I am after. You’ve essentially hijacked the Bush Administration/Fox News tactic of presenting two sides to a story and pretend they are equal. Evolution is a theory, creationism (oops, intelligent design) is a theory — two theories ought to be taught side-by-side as equals. All scientists who write in peer-reviewed journals assert that global warming is caused by human activity, a few cranks are paid by the usual suspects to create doubt — boom! our government takes no action. You say that two peoples have land claims, they must be equal. What a cop-out!

    Israel has never denied the Arabs right to exist. (That is not to say the exact boundaries of that tiny scrap of land are not subject to negotiation.) Especially since the Palestinians elected a party that explicitly denies Israel’s right to exist, you’ll have to forgive me if I am less sympathetic to their land claims.

    However, if you are still confused about my original question, here’s the point: if you ask Arabs that question and demand an honest answer, I believe that it is highly likely that the answer would be so offensive to people with the Western values of equality, democracy and tolerance that treating the two sides as morally equivalent will rightly end.

  • Potter

    houstonDave says: “Israel has never denied the Arabs right to exist.” If by “Arabs, you mean Palestinians that is not right. (refer to Golda Meier’s quote about there is no such thing as Palestinians – repeated thereafter by many)

    Palestinians do not deny Israel’s right to exist because they have elected Hamas. They elected Hamas primarily because they had no choice about how to get rid of the other bad choice. What they neglected to do was to protest Hamas politics before boycott put them under economic hardship which caused more solidarity with Hamas. This is how western/ Israeli policy is counterproductive.

    This issue about the right to exist is so relatively minor in my opinion, next to real the issues that it is a real shame to waste time talking about it. To refuse to talk because of this issue is nuts.

  • jdyer

    “Jews were quite happy in Germany- certainly not ready to leave en masse. Other Jews who were persecuted chose the US other places to go ( as they had throughout their history). Few went to Palestine.”

    Potter, you have to take responsibility for the meaning of your comments.

    Now, the above quote as I read it says that Jews in most part did not choose to go to “Palestine” because they preferred other places to that of a Jewish State.

    Now, you are going to say to me that you didn’t say “Jewish State,” that you said Palestine.

    However, as I read your comment that is the import of what you said.

    Now, as you know few people would apt to go to a place that isn’t developed. Life in Mandate Palestine was tough. Hence few people who could settle in a more developed and civilized place would go there.

    I don’t know what that means to you and what conclusions you draw.

    To me the remarkable thing was the few hundred thousand pioneers who did go there and developed from scratch a civilization reinventing in the process themselves as well as Judaism. They ressurected a moribund language and they created a first rate literature. Israel is one of the wonders of the world.

    The problem is that most infrormation about that country comes from newspeople who have shallow understanging of what they write.

    To get back to your remarkable first sentence, tough.

    “Jews were quite happy in Germany..” yes they were and they were living in a fool’s paradise as they found out because Germany wasn’t happy with them, nor were many other European countries. Certainly not Poland which was happy to keep on killing them after the Holocaust. Nor was the Soviet Union which had destroyed their culture.

    “The French and the Czechs supported Israe with armsl in 48 war of Independence, contrary to your statement that the support from the western world was only diplomatic .”

    Wrong, the weapons that came from Czechoslovakia were bought by the Jews just as they scrounged a couple of old planes here and there and flew them to Israel.

    The support they had was from American and European Jews (and some non Jews) some of whom went there to fight. However the Arab armies of 1948 had many more Europeans helping them.

    France didn’t offer any military help in 1948.

    “It is much more believable that the UN would have happened w/o WW2, the League of Nations needed to be improved upon, than a state of Israel could have happened without the urgency post WW2. ( This is not my idea, I only agree with it)”

    This is a fantasy. The US was dead set against the League and without WW2 they certainly would not have joined a stronger version of such an organization. I doubt the Europeans would have agreed to such an arrangement also.

    WW2 exhausted European civilization and they were ready to listen to any alternative.

    The Jews dedicated to the creation of a Jewish State without the murder of European Jewry would have been in a stonger position to bring it about. Antisemitism which was very strong in Europe and in North and South America would have driven the Jews there. Even w/o the Holocaust the antisemitism in Eastern Europe was intolerable. You should read up on the history of the Jews in Poland and other Eastern European countries sometime.

    “I said: Regarding “They always want more in the name of peaceâ€? Look who actually has! Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land.”

    yes, and I asked you why the Arabs rejected the UN partition plan of 1947?

    Forget the he said/she said stuff. Got an answer yet?

  • jdyer

    “That is to emphasize: always wanting more when they have not got a blessed thing yet, certainly not sovereignty which is what they are fighting for. Instead they have been losing more and more. This is partially their fault,…..”

    I am confused, if Arabs had accepted the partition plan of 47 than they would have had a State and no one would have been able to “grab their land.”

    Instead, let me remind you, they made war on the Jewish: there were two wars. In 1947 the Arabs of Palestine attacked the Jews areas and were driven back. Then in 1948 the Arab League invaded. In the process the people that launched their war were defeated. When an aggressor launched a war as did Germany or Japan and lose then they tend to lose some of their territory. NO one is telling Poland or the Czechs to return land to Germany. So why the double standard?

    Germans too were driven from their homes in Poland and other places. I believe the number of refugees was in the millions. Yet you didn’t see the UN set up special camps for them.

    The same thing happened in Soth Europe and in the wars between Turkey and Greece. Millions of refugees were absorbed by other countries. Only in Mandate Palestine did the UN decide to create a “refugee problem.” Only in Palestine was Israel supposed to return land to the nations that launched an aggressive war against it. Only Israel is not allowed to defend itself against terrorist run country like Lebanon.

    nato in the Balkans launched a much more aggressive war killing many more civilians. The Arabs never protested that war did they?

    Ever hear of antisemitism. It didn’t die out with WW2 it just took a different form.

  • fiddlesticks

    http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyid=2006-07-29T004417Z_01_N28203407_RTRUKOC_0_US-CRIME-SHOOTING.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

    “One dead, 4 hurt in Seattle Jewish center shooting”

    Ok, let’s hear the excuses for this dastardly deed.

  • Old Nick

    ‘“One dead, 4 hurt in Seattle Jewish center shooting�

    Ok, let’s hear the excuses for this dastardly deed.’

    Conflating the actions of one anti-Semitic, and quite possibly religiously-motivated murderer with criticism of the actions of the state of Israel is self-defeating. It degenerates all these threads into “you’re an anti-Semite!� fire-fights, desertifying the threads into no-mans-lands for any but the usual half a dozen contributors to any and every ROS thread involving Israel.

    Shouting down all others, or fragging these threads into places where no others dare to tread is actually totalitarian: “No opinion but ours is allowable!�

    “Criticize Israel and we will crush you!�

    It’s worse than wearisome. Outsiders looking in turn away in despair. At least half of every one of these threads contains rehash after rehash of the same tedious, accusatory, scornful, and snide castigations.

    Conflating authentic anti-Semites like that murderer in Seattle with those who criticize the actions of the state of Israel isn’t merely wearisome and self-defeating, it’s intellectually disgraceful.

    I look forward to new topics on ROS next week, and the return of this site’s many excellent writers who’ve learned to sit out these Israel threads.

    I miss them.

    (This doesn’t mean Potter, however, who, unlike most other ‘Israel-thread regulars’, is capable of compassion for others and capable of recognizing that the others have a human story too.)

  • Potter

    There you go again jdyer– I take responsibility for MY meaning not your meaning, interpretation or mischaracterization of what I said. Jews WERE quite happy in Germany. They did not KNOW they were living in a fool’s paradise at that time. The point was they did not go to Palestine.

    Howard Sachar’s History of Israel p 329 Chapter on the War of Independence: On May 20 the Czechs turned over an entire military airfield to the Jews which in the following months became Israel’s principal base in Europe for the shuttle service of arms and planes. “ Israel ferried dismantled fighter planes, artillery pieces, armored vehicles, and lighter weapons and ammunition. Planes arrived from other countries as well including bombers and fighters often flown illegally by veterans of the Allied air forces out of Britain and the United States. Thousands of tons of ammunition, military equipment, and clothing now arrived, much of it purchased, much of it donated from Jewish sources throughout the world.�

    The French government too continued it’s support. Weapons were sold in large qualtities to the a Jews. Training and storage and assemblage facilities were provided…. Airfields in Corsica were made available….. nor did Prime Minister …Bidaut obstruct agents from conducting their recruiting and arms purchases on French soil… [ and on and on and so forth from the book about what France did- I can’t type it all for you- it’s detailed go read it]. Please do not tell me this all was bought and that means it did not count. Not everything was or could be bought—permissions, cooperation, favors were granted etc. The Czech decision to sell weapons, Sachar says was partly political, but also humanitarian.

    The Jews of Easter Europe and Poland ( including my own family) mainly went to the US. jdyer You speculate yet complain about speculation. What are your rules?

    Then argument gets shifted away from the fact that “Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land� to one of the reasons why: the original rejection of 47. Blame ( which should also include Israel’s desire for more land as well as Arab intransigence) does not change the truth about this loss and how essential that is to fuel the Arab cause, it’s justness and appeal.

    You should be happy that Arabs rejected the 47 plan by the way, Israel gained much better borders in the War of Independence.

    This land ( the West Bank and Gaza) was not won in war from other countries but land taken that was promised to Palestinians that neither Egypt, nor Jordan want back. ( I am excluding Golan which Syria wants back.) As that state is waiting to happen when there is agreement, most refugees, it is felt, would relocate to the new state of Palestine.

    Sorry Nick – I will end my part in this.

  • Two things that Harry Truman wrote relevant to what is going on now are interesting to reflect on.

    He wrote to Senator Joseph Ball of Minnesota on November 24, 1945:

    “I told the Jews that if they were willing to furnish me with five hundred thousand men to carry on a war with the Arabs, we could do what they are suggesting in the Resolution [favoring a state] – otherwise we we will have to negotiate awhile.

    It is a very explosive situation we are facing, and naturally I regret it very much, but I don’t think that you, or any of the other Senators, would be inclined to send half a dozen Divisions to Palestine to maintain a Jewish State.

    What I am trying to do is to make the whole world safe for the Jews. Therefore, I don’t feel like going to war for Palestine.”

    Today the US just supplies the weapons rather than the men.

    He wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt on August 23, 1947, apparently in the wake of one or another Jewish terrorist atrocity:

    “I fear very much that the Jews are like all underdogs. When they get on top they are just as intolerant and cruel as the people were to them when they were underneath. I regret this situation very much because my sympathy has always been on their side.”

    http://www.mideastweb.org/us_supportforstate.htm

  • Old Nick

    Potter, I didn’t mean to critique the interest or output of the most common bylines on these threads but the common stylistic techniques of the writers: techniques that inhibit civil conversation and the learning that good discourse should foster. A friend of mine who reads this site notes that the same old tedious arguments are fought anew in every new Middle East thread, no matter what the ROS staff asks and poses in the headers at the threads’ beginnings. She notes repetitive citing of cherry-picked facts to prove weak or biased points. (Cherry-picking is of course an unfortunate by-product of the single-threaded blog and its premium on verbal economy; but we know Brendan is working to ameliorate this structural confinement.) She’s sick and tired of the accusations of anti-Semitism, which strikes her as fantastic considering that many of the shouted-down describe themselves as Jews (and so is she). She reckons there’s a psychological component to it, and though she has explained it to me, it’s not my place to present it.

    I wanted but didn’t have time to compose a note for the “Sometimes a story-line is a Goliath� thread that this war in fact deserves the coverage it receives, because it is the flashpoint of the larger global conflict between Islamism and the ‘dhimmi’ world that the Islamists intend to convert or destroy. However, I’m beginning to despair for the quality of discourse here on the ROS blog: most (not you) seem more interested in championing a pre-fabricated POV than engaging in a genuinely educational discourse. Pontificators have at least as much to learn as the people whose opinions they strive to affect (I should know). I don’t seem to note much reciprocity however. Too many writers in these Middle East threads condemn others, unimaginatively and without compassion, instead of posing questions (and I don’t mean the loaded questions that even my irredeemably illiterate cat could sense the agenda behind). Too many writers in these Middle East threads resort to accusations instead of engaging in civil discourse those contributors representing others points of view.

    And no one learns anything—well, except that these writers are as stubborn as a wall and as open to illumination as a black hole.

    Luckily, you’re an exception: I learn plenty from you. I just wish others would note the effectiveness of your writings: how you take pains to empathetically note that both sides have legitimate grievances with the other, and then try to work the conversation toward resolution instead of toward totalitarian obliteration of dissenting POV’s.

    I’m not tired of the topic but of the common technique and the tone. (Scorn is self-defeating: it alienates instead of illuminates.)

    So please don’t stop your contributions. Please don’t think we’re sick of what you bring us: Brendan’s quote of you above is ample proof of your uncommon value.

  • Potter

    Thank you Nick-I am trying to see things from the other side. I don’t want to be blinded by all the defensive arguments to be made. I think that’s the key to survival, not righteousness.

    I don’t understand anti-Semitism and I do not argue that it is with us ( whaddya know Mel Gibson is one- see the news) but at this moment when others are doing most of the suffering I think it is out of place to be arguing about Jews as the victims in history.

    The Seattle violence would not have happened without what we are seeing and reading plastered all over the media ( more than what we are getting from boiling Iraq which is perhaps okay with Bush).

    I believe Israel had other choices than this to deal with the situation in this way and in the process not only bring down so much harm to others, but, I feel, to Israel. I can’t see good coming out of this war. I hope that I am wrong.

    I heard a Hezbollean interviewed (on the BBC?) about why they exposed civilians to this danger. He said that there are no civilians and that everyone should be willing to give their life for the cause.

    The daily paper I read has headlines, descriptive articles and pictures that should make any human heart sink about suffering, death, destruction of buildings ( people underneath dead, alive) destroyed roads bridges and now comes the news of considerable environmental damage.

    Headlines say “Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support of Hezbollah”. Nasrallah is a hero. Arabs are uniting. Israel is managing to unite Arabs! Part of the reason Israel survives is that Arab countries have not been united against her.

    Increasingly the Arab Street has influence and what they see on their television and computer screens incites anger yet again against Israel and the US. Hello boomerang. Nasrallah is gaining so much attention that Zawahiri has to remind us about Al Qaeda.

    Will we see something very spectacular from Al Qaeda soon?

  • jdyer

    ” Jews WERE quite happy in Germany. They did not KNOW they were living in a fool’s paradise at that time. The point was they did not go to Palestine.”

    Potter, it was tragically worse than that.

    Most German Jews were German nationalists in spite of, or rather because of antisemitism. They wanted to show their “countrymen” that they were more “German than the Germans”

    However, among the youth of Germany especially the middle class youth there developed a strong feeling for Zionism. Many of these (the best and brightest I would say) went to mandate Palestine. Most Jews living in Germany though tragically did not survive to go anywhere.

    Now, when you say that “The point was they did not go to Palestine,” you are aiming at, consciously or not to delegitimize the Zionist project.

    The question than arised how comes it that about half of world Jewry today lives in Israel and that within a generation or two the number will increase dramatically while the number of Jews in the diaspora will go down, again, dramatically.

    In the US it is estimated that by then end of the century there will be less than a third of the number of Jews living here now. This is true because of assimiliation, the lack of procreation and emigration to Israel. In other words, the other side of your argument is that Jews outside Israel are not destined to survive as a people for much longer.

    The same dynamic is at work in Western Europe.

    “Howard Sachar’s History of Israel p 329 Chapter on the War of Independence: On May 20 the Czechs turned over an entire military airfield to the Jews which in the following months became Israel’s principal base in Europe for the shuttle service of arms and planes.”

    You make it sound as if “an entire airfield were a major arms bonanza. The arms such as they were came from a small country and not from either the US or Wetsern Europe. Moreover these arms came late in the war and while they were of some help did not play as much of a role as they might have had they arrived a year earlier.

    The Arabs by contrast had air superiority and bombed TEl Aviv and other cities on many occasions. They had pretty much control of the skies.

    As to France sachar overtstaes the case. A government not “interfering” in arms sales is not the same supplying arms to Israel.

    “The Jews of Easter Europe and Poland ( including my own family) mainly went to the US. jdyer You speculate yet complain about speculation. What are your rules?”

    Most of the Jews from Eastern Europe arrived here before 1920, before there was a large scale Zionist movement.

    However, as I said earlier given the antisemitism in America before, during, and right after WW2 Jews were not welcome here en mass.

    What is your point about this anyway. As I said Jew like other oppressed peoples go where there is safety. An intrepid few who wish to take their destiny into their own hand and create their own national identity in their ancestral homeland will take the risk of working for it under adverse circumstances. As a result Israel resurrected a murdered or moribund civilization. It is under siege but it is fighting back and thriving. American Jewry is in the decline. That’s my point. For people like you to preach to the Israelis is the height of chutzpah, that too is my point.

    “You should be happy that Arabs rejected the 47 plan by the way, Israel gained much better borders in the War of Independence.�

    This is besides the point. They rejected it and that is that. Israel might have lost in 1947-1948. There was certainly nothing inevitable about a victory.

    “Then argument gets shifted away from the fact that “Everyday something more is taken away or destroyed of what was to be Palestinian land� to one of the reasons why: the original rejection of 47. Blame ( which should also include Israel’s desire for more land as well as Arab intransigence) does not change the truth about this loss and how essential that is to fuel the Arab cause, it’s justness and appeal.�

    Oh please, you are just trying to justify your meaningless and fallacious point that the Jews are every day stealing more land from the Palestinians. You say this at a time when the government withdrew settlers from Gaza, and will withdraw settlers from the Wets Bank. It’s a ridiculous point meant to delegitimize the Jewish State.

    “This land ( the West Bank and Gaza) was not won in war from other countries but land taken that was promised to Palestinians that neither Egypt, nor Jordan want back.�

    The Palestinians had rejected setting up a State on that land on a number of occasions. It’s not up to Israel to force a State down their throat. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the PLO said that it would build a State on whatever land the Israelis gave them This was the Jericho and Gaza first option of the Oslo accords. Arafat never followed through on his commitments, he rejected the camp David accords of 2000 which would have given the Palestinians most of what they wanted including a division of Jerusalem. Instead Arafat launched attacks on Israelis and unleashed squads of suicide bombers.

    Given these facts you minor and silly point that “Everyday something more is taken…� form the poor pitiful Palestinians is just contra-factual.

    Btw: I am not interested in pursuing this discussion with you, neither. However, if you post a mendacious reply I will correct your disinformation.

  • jdyer

    “I believe Israel had other choices than this to deal with the situation in this way and in the process not only bring down so much harm to others, but, I feel, to Israel. I can’t see good coming out of this war. I hope that I am wrong.”

    Now, Potter is a Prime Minister and General of the armies all at once. Potter thinks she knows better than the people elected as well as selected to protect their country.

  • jdyer

    sidewalker

    .

    To say that the Jews have become as cruel as the Nazis is a sign of rank antisemitism.

    You can take any quote out of context.

    Yes, Truman had an anti-Semitic streak in him, not as bad as yours, though.

  • Potter

    Funny after my post I read this editorial. I swear they did not consult with me.

    A Right Way to Help Israel

  • Old Nick

    Is this another example of ‘rank anti-Semitism’?

    What I am trying to do is to make the whole world safe for the Jews.

    http://www.radioopensource.org/israel-at-war/#comment-14102

    Here’s an interesting tidbit forwarded by a friend who reads this thread but who (understandably) doesn’t want to post it:

    (quote)

    German Jewry was deeply loyal to the Weimar Republic which had put an end to the discriminations of the Wilhelmine era. Germany’s Jews, (0.9 per cent of the population) were generally prosperous: 60 per cent were businessmen or professionals; the rest artisans, clerks, students, with only insubstantial numbers of industrial workers. Most were for liberal capitalism, with 64 per cent voting for the Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP). About 28 per cent voted for the moderate Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD). Only 4 per cent voted for the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD), and the rest were scattered rightists. Weimar looked safe to all of them as they saw the Nazi vote drop from 6.5 per cent in 1924 to a mere 2.6 per cent in 1928. None thought horror lay ahead.

    …Some 2,000 settlers went from Germany to Palestine between 1897 and 1933, but many of these were Russians stranded there after the revolution. In 1930 the ZVfD (German Zionist organization) had 9,059 paid-up members, but the dues were nominal and in no way a sign of deep commitment. ……..Zionism was not an important element in the Weimar Republic.

    (unquote)

    http://www.marxists.de/middleast/brenner/ch03.htm

    But, of course, for all I know, Lenni Brenner is just another ‘rank anti-Semite’.

    Don’t expect me to argue the point. I’m only delivering the message for someone else appalled by much of this thread’s rhetoric.

  • Old Nick

    Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite! Anti-Semite!

    There. That should hold us over for the next four or so posts.

    Anyone can now feel free to contribute without using the phrase.

    Once it crops up again, we can cut-and-paste this post as a reply.

  • Old Nick

    Potter, I just read the op-ed you link us to at 3:41 PM. Thank you.

    (Pssst! Wait! Are you sure the NYT editorialists aren’t just another bunch of rank *nt*-S*m*t*s?)

  • Potter

    Some 2,000 settlers went from Germany to Palestine between 1897 and 1933, but many of these were Russians stranded there after the revolution

    Wow Nick- thank your friend for doing the research. I am reminded how so “not-happening” Zionism was in Germany before all hell broke loose.

    The problem with some commenters here who try to discuss things is that they do not know how to concede a point graciously and therefore have to shift the goal post to be right but even then they aren’t right and then use name-calling as a last refuge in the hopes that the discussion will end, Like terrorism, it works.

    Nick “mendacious” is a fancy word for liar right? What’s the fancy word for dishonesty?

  • jdyer

    I am avoiding Old NIck’s posts.

    the aricle on the Marxist website is pathetic.

    Where are the Weimar Jews now?

  • jdyer

    “Some 2,000 settlers went from Germany to Palestine between 1897 and 1933, but many of these were Russians stranded there after the revolution.”

    So what? What happened to the other Jews of Weimar?

  • jdyer

    What happened to the Marxist Jews in Poland and the Soviet Union?

  • Potter

    If this is true I am relieved somewhat:

    Hezbollah was Using Un Post as a Shield”

    ————–

    The author of the book quoted on the Marxist ( not that dirty word Communist) site is important enough to have his bio on Wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenni_Brenner

    Howard Sachar, noted and respected Jewish historian in his book “A history of Israel” points out that Zionism in Germany around the turn of the last century was denounced as treason and a danger to Judaism and to the Fatherland in German Jewish newspapers the Munich Jewish community denied cooperation with Herzl.

    The association of Rabbi’s in Germany at the time advised all who are concerned witht he welfare of Judaism to stay away from Zionist endeavors.

    And so on ( see page 44)

    On page 52 Sachar says that as Zionism was gaining in articulation, so was anti-Zionism, especially in Germany, Austria, France. England and even the USA. ( This again is before the rise of Nazi Germany).

    Oy! pathetic that I have to look this all up for you jdyer and write it with a sore hand. Better to admit you lost this point.

  • how come the United Nation never had a resolution about the 1 000 000 jews displaced from Arab countries?

  • rc21

    Because for the most part they dont like Isreal. The UN is mainly a socialistic secular body that caters to left wing thought. And right now the left doesnt like Isreal. Probably because they are a sucsessfull democracy that has strong ties to the US another sucsessfull democracy.

  • jdyer

    “Some 2,000 settlers went from Germany to Palestine between 1897 and 1933, but many of these were Russians stranded there after the revolution.�

    Coming back to this suspicious quote:

    First, it is amazing that a German Marxist would differentiate between “German Jews� and “Russian Jews.� This smells of the old “our good Jews,� and the “foreign bad Jews� of the antisemites. For many reasons the need to minimize the number of German Jews attracted to Zionism is in itself a sign of bad faith.

    Second, the number of people attracted to a movement has never been a sign of its legitimacy nor does it tell us anything about its fate in the world.

    During the colonial period only minority of Americans were attracted to the revolutionary cause. After the revolution a large number of colonials either left for England or moved to Canada.

    This fact doesn’t tells us anything about why the revolutionaries succeeded in their war against the English.

    The same is obviously true of Marxists who never attracted a majority in any country, certainly not in Germany and not even in Russia.

    For a Marxist to indict Zionism because it didn’t attract a majority of Jews is ironic to say the least.

    This is true because Communists carried on their own war against Jews. Like the German Nazis although not as systematically the Communists in Russia annihilated most Jewish communities extant there before WW1.

    Besides, the communists, even Communist Jews like Trotsky refused to help their fellow Jews saying that they were communists and had nothing to do with Jewish people.

    This was also true in Poland after WW2 when a number of pogroms broke out. The Jews in the communist party refused to help and kept aloof till they themselves fell victims to Polish antisemitism a decade later. We all know what happened to Trotsky. Trotsky before he died did finally see the light and endorse Zionism and his grandson became a Zionist who joined the settle movement on the West bank. (This is always the case with fanatics—they can never embrace main stream thinking—you would think that Trotsky’s grandson would endorse the labor party in Israel but they were to tame for him—but always move to the fringes of a cause.)

    Coming back to the Jews in Germany. The number who went to Palestine may have been small till 1933, and after all life was good. But the number of Jews who joined the Zionist movement there was much larger, though probably also in the minority.

    Many German Jews like Walter Benjamin were attracted to both German nationalist movements and Zionism at the same time and saw no contradiction there, though other like Gershom Scholem and even Hanna Arendt (two well known Zionists at the time) did.

  • jdyer

    “On page 52 Sachar says that as Zionism was gaining in articulation, so was anti-Zionism, especially in Germany, Austria, France. England and even the USA. (This again is before the rise of Nazi Germany).”

    What happened to the Jews of Germany?

  • jdyer

    Hezbollah has said repeatedly that they don’t recognize the distinction between civilians and soldiers on either side of the conflict.

    The only way to deal with an enemy like that is to destory it, utterly.

  • jdyer

    More n Hezbolah’s method war making war:

    http://www.news.com.au/sundayheraldsun/story/0,,19955774-5007220,00.html

    Photos that damn HezbollahChris Link

    July 30, 2006 12:00am

    “THIS is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon’s battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia….”

  • Potter

    This article by Ari Shavit is worth reading This War is Different

    “mothers are the only thing in the world that can defeat an army”.

    This is about the anguish, the confusion, the soul-searching, the search for meaning of three mothers who lost their sons in Israel’s first Lebanon war.

  • Potter

    jdyer, you will go to extrordinary lengths to avoid conceding that you lost your point. And now you go on and on with trying to discredit an historian based on the possibility of his politics. Okay so go read Sachar. It’s not about Brenner- it’s about historical fact. Either the number is correct, the years are correct or not. And it is NOT a sin to distinguish between German and Russian Jews. Goodness gracious!

  • jdyer

    “jdyer, you will go to extrordinary lengths to avoid conceding that you lost your point.”

    You have no point, Potter. As to sachar I have read his book and a half dozen other histories of Israel and Jewish history. I have nothing against his politics.

    I do have something against your selective quoting. Besides, If your point was that the majority of Jews did not embrace Zionism in its inception then that’s obvious. Why should they have embraced a dream. Those Jews who were better off felt threatened by it while the mass of Jews came around to accept it over time.

    Zionism adn Socialism were the two competing ideologies for the Jewish masses and in the end Zionism triumphed because history proved it right.

    THis is a complex issue and can’t be talked about in a debate on a web log.

    I believe I have written enough about this.

    I ask you again, though, what happened to the self confident anti-Zionist German Jews?

  • jdyer

    Lots of good articles in Haaretz as well as in the Jerusalem Post, no need to choose only one.

    Here is another one

    “A proxy war By Joschka Fischer”

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/743769.html

  • jdyer

    Another important article:

    Justified, essential and timely

    By Avraham Tal

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/743763.html

  • jdyer

    Yoel Marcus knows well what is at stake:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/743765.html

    “With a thunderous roar”

    By Yoel Marcus

  • Old Nick

    Potter, this from you is haunting me:

    “I heard a Hezbollean interviewed (on the BBC?) about why they exposed civilians to this danger. He said that there are no civilians and that everyone should be willing to give their life for the cause.�

    Such travesties of rationalization can come only from minds that have been parasitized by malignant belief-systems.

    Q: What greater good does a belief that gets its adherents killed serve?

    A: It serves no good but that of its own perpetuation. Fanaticism serves the belief’s existence and prosperity, not that of the believers.

    When we pretend that ‘faith’ is off-limits for discussion, that ancient religious texts aren’t in need of having their writers’ exhortations to violence and ‘sanctified’ bigotries edited out (because, putatively, “God spoke literally through the prophet’s mouth�), are we not complicit in the deaths of the innocents who live among fanatical religionists – and in the deaths of those they declare the enemy of their ‘god’?

    Those who don’t know what I’m talking about can read the Koran. OR, since that’s awfully time-consuming, have a look at this quote from page 117 of Sam Harris’s The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason:

    (quote)

    If you believe anything like what the Koran says you must believe in order to escape the fires of hell, you will, at the very least, be sympathetic to the actions of Osama bin Laden. The prohibitions against “suicidal terrorism� are not nearly as numerous as (apologists suggest). The Koran contains a single ambiguous line, “Do not destroy yourselves.� (4:29)

    …God, who is infinitely wise, has cursed the infidels with their doubts. He prolongs their life and prosperity so that they may continue heaping sin upon sin and all the more richly deserve the torments that await them beyond the grave.

    (unquote)

    Harris then provides 60 – that’s sixty – relevant Koranic quotes of which this the first:

    “It is the same whether or not you forewarn them (the unbelievers), they will have no faith.� (2:16)

    This the nineteenth:

    “Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. (I)f they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they desist, God is forgiving and merciful… (Does this contradict 2:16?) …Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers.â€? (2:190-93)

    This the twentieth:

    “Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you may dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not.� (2:216)

    This the 31st:

    “If you have suffered a defeat, so did the enemy. We alternate these vicissitudes among mankind so that God may know the true believers and choose martyrs among you (God does not love the evil-doers); and that God may test the faithful and annihilate the infidels.� (3:140)

    The sixty quotes require over five pages of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

    http://www.powells.com/biblio/2-0393327655-0

    Harris then concludes:

    (quote)

    …there is no substitute for confronting the text itself. I cannot judge the quality of the Arabic; perhaps it is sublime. But its contents are not. On almost every page, the Koran instructs observant Muslims to despise non-believers. On almost every page, it prepares the ground for religious conflict. Anyone who can read passages like those quoted above and still not see a link between Muslim faith and Muslim violence should probably consult a neurologist.

    (unquote)

    Stern stuff; but what’s worse is that (for brevity’s sake) I didn’t include the Koran’s outright anti-Semitism (real anti-Semitism, mind you), or its sexism that reduces woman’s integrity and personhood to one quarter that of a man. And I’ll only mention that the penalty for Muslim apostasy is death: you’re not allowed to ‘quit’. Islam also preaches that it is unforgivable to cede any of the land won by the faith. Yes, not just the minds of the believers are never to be relinquished– but the lands. Lands like Israel and Spain!

    Is this an anti-Muslim diatribe? No. I pity those whose minds have been colonized by this malignancy we dignify with the word ‘faith.’

    I pity the innocents, especially the women and children, consigned to die in bloody agony under tons of bombed concrete and twisted metal just to perpetuate this faith.

    No human being deserves that sort of thing. I’m not railing against Muslims, but against the tacit worldwide inter-cultural agreement to never critically examine the memetic parasites controlling our minds and lives and denying us full use of our ability to reason. Yes, I’m talking about the free pass we award to ‘revealed religion’ – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revealed_religion .

    Why don’t moderate Muslim clerics edit their scripture of its unmistakable calls to violence, intolerance, bigotry and sexism? Because heresy is capital offense too. And Allah, remember, spoke inerrantly through Mohamed. It’s circular logic, sure, but it’s also an unbeatable memetic adaptation. Biblical scholars haven’t the same certainty Islamists have. They can claim that their prophets were ‘divinely inspired’, but not divinely possessed. I’ve outlined here how Islamists aren’t in fact ‘extremists’ but simply and authentically faithful. That’s not an ‘excuse’, but, given the defined criteria of ‘faithfulness’, a simple truth. (It should be obvious by now that I find execrable any and all religiously-sanctioned murder and oppression.)

    Given all this, I can’t help but worry that the twinned rise of Hamas and Hezbollah has made hope for genuine peace in the Middle East all but impossible. The settler movement helped to radicalize the Palestinians: had they in the 1980’s been offered a state and accepted it, Islamism’s appeal would surely have remained marginal.

    Now, is this critique ‘anti-Semitic’?

    Think it over.

    Is it anti-Semitic to worry over the fate of a whole Jewish country built in a land that is also home to implacable religious hatreds? Is it anti-Semitic to note that to kill off the hostile meme, you’d have to kill all the minds hosting it? Minds that number in the countless millions, and who proselytize by using terrible, daily, televised images of war?

    I suggest it’s no more anti-Semitic than it is anti-Muslim to hope that Islamism-the-meme miraculously transmutes into a love of reason and a concomitant loathing of warfare. (A vain hope, surely, considering its reproductive success over the centuries.)

    Humanity’s only long term hope is to abandon the ‘certainty’ that ‘God’ spoke immutable ‘truths’ and instructions through ‘prophets’ who have been dead for dozens of generations. It’s no more plausible than Santa Claus. (And a lot more violently troubling, too.)

    PS: Harris in unsparing in his critique of fundamentalist Christianity too. Just so you know.

  • If we are to talk of Irael at war, then should we not talk about the war machines on both sides, in addition to the parasitic memes, driving semitic brothers (or cousins) against each other.

    We hear a lot in the MSM about the Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah connection, but not nearly as much about the how US tax payers (and taxpayer elsewhere) fund Israel’s war and how the arms industry (with its Rumsfeld-type and neo-con executives and investors) suppy and benefit from all the destruction.

    This profiteering on death, this need for blood spillage, rationalized as corporate efficiency and a sound bottom line, feeds off religious and nationalist dogma in the battle for power and wealth.

    New technology, new methods, but an ancient game, where the unquestioning and fearful masses are tossed to the flames by the elite, their wordsmiths and their killers.

    Hard-core Pro-Hezbollah and pro-Israeli forces can paint it black or white, as they like, but to someone more neutral, it just looks like a lot of grey rubble stained in the red blood of innocent people and many misguided boys given deadly weapons.

  • jdyer

    An honest article, for once, on Eurepan hypocrisy published in a British paper:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/07/29/do2902.xml

    The tall story we Europeans now tell ourselves about Israel

    By Charles Moore

  • Potter

    No- this is a better article by Ze’ev Sternhell

    The inability of a major power to put an end to a guerrilla war is not a new phenomenon: From Napoleon in Spain, through his successors in Algeria, to the Americans in Vietnam and now in Iraq, well-organized armies equipped with modern technology have always failed in attempts to defeat irregular forces. The latter know how to adapt themselves to their surroundings, they are an inseparable part of the population and they serve its material, religious and emotional needs.

    When there is fighting, guerrilla organizations want the entire population to be harmed. When everyone is a victim, the hatred will be directed at the enemy more forcefully. That is why bombing residential neighborhoods, power plants, bridges and highways is an act of folly, which plays into Hezbollah’s hands and serves its strategic goals: An attack on the overall fabric of life creates a common fate for the fighters and those standing on the sidelines. At the same time, the greater the population’s suffering, the greater its alienation from the formal ruling institutions – the government, the parliament and the various security forces that are powerless to save them.

    It is an illusion to hope that the 700,000 Lebanese refugees will direct their fury at their government, or that the population that still remains in place will evict the Hezbollah members from among it. As far as the population is concerned, responsibility for its catastrophe lies entirely with Israel, and failure to cooperate with whoever fights against Israel would be considered national treason. It was foolish to assume that the Lebanese political elite would dare to confront Hezbollah and use force against it. And anyway, who was even capable of using force? The Lebanese Army, whose bases were bombed as well?

    Read the whole article: Let’s Declare Victory and Start Talking

  • jdyer

    Here is a map of the areas in Beirut targeted by Israel.

    From BBC reportings (always biased against Israel) one would assume that all of Beirut was targeted.

    http://www.cohav.org/library/Beirut%20areas%20effected%20as%20of%2021.pdf

  • jdyer

    No- this is a better article by…..

    They are all good articles and its the totality of views that is important to consider not just one or two points of view.

  • jdyer

    jef weintraub one of the more intelligent bloggers on the left offers lots of good articles worth thinking about:

    http://jeffweintraub.blogspot.com/

    Here is what he says about the campaign against Hezbollah:

    “At the start of the war, there was support for Israel’s cause in trying to push the murderous Hezbollah from Israel’s northern border after its kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. Many people say that Israel’s reaction was “disproportionateâ€?. The description “disproportionateâ€? has been bandied about so much that it has lost any relevance. The kidnappings are not the sole reason for Israel’s reaction! The continuous Hezbollah provocations on the northern borders eroded Israel’s patience! Can one say that the constant hostile incidents on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, initiated by Hezbollah since Israel’s unilateral pullout from Lebanon in 2000 is not sufficient reason for Israel to open fire on them? The Hezbollah did not invent kidnappings on 12 July 2006. There had been previous kidnappings over the years and negotiations for release. This latest kidnapping was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Hezbollah is an evil, terrorist organization. They are well trained and organized. It is possible that Israel’s intelligence underestimated their tenacity, prowess and motivation. Iran and Syria are supporting Hezbollah and are arming this organization to carry on the fight against Israel. Hezbollah hides behind civilians, threatening them at gunpoint to provide them with shelter in the areas where they live. Some Lebanese homes have become armament stores and command headquarters for Hezbollah. It would not be surprising if Hezbollah ordered innocent civilians to remain in their homes and not heed IDF (Israel Defense Force) warnings to vacate in preparation for the battles ahead. Hezbollah did this in order to achieve three basic goals:

    Lebanese suffering will receive increased coverage by the media that will work in Hezbollah’s favor.

    The Arab states and other powerful terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, will support Hezbollah in their fight against Israel.

    The UN will come under pressure from the ineffectual Lebanese Government and the Arab states to get support for a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

    Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are not allies but it is a matter of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend� in this case. Hezbollah will try to gain support from any quarter for its cause of the destruction of Israel.

    The accidental shooting of four UN personnel who were part of UNIFIL was an unfortunate incident. One should view this in the same light as “friendly fire� on Israel soldiers by their own. In wars, unintentional accidents occur due to incorrect judgment. The UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan’s rash statements blaming Israel for this unfortunate incident was not constructive. It somehow casts a deep suspicion as to his fairness of judgment in this situation.

    Hezbollah must bear the responsibility for the suffering of the Lebanese People. They have made cynical use of their defenselessness for their own crooked propaganda purposes.”

    Lots more of interesting observations in this blog:

    About a cease fire he has this to say:

    “There are calls for a cease-fire. If the warring parties declare a cease-fire prematurely, Hezbollah will view this as a victory – not even a Pyrrhic victory, but a total one. They would adopt a cease-fire for one purpose only – to re-arm and attack Israel at a later opportunity of their choosing. After all, one declares a cease-fire with states and not terrorist organizations. If Lebanon were to declare a cease-fire and one of the conditions would be the reining in of Hezbollah and its demise including its total disarmament in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1559 (2004) then it would be worthy of support. Naturally, the return of the two Israeli soldiers and possible prisoner exchanges could be part of a watertight agreement in cessation of hostilities.”

    Read the rest!

  • jdyer

    Looks like the Lebanese head of State has dropped all claims of neutrality:

    “Lebanese PM thanks Hizbullah for ‘sacrifices’

    Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora says during press conference that he expresses his ‘full estimation’ for Nasrallah, and for all those who sacrifice their lives for Lebanon.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3283763,00.html

    It’s becoming apparent that this is a Lebanese Israeli war and not merely a war against Hisballah. The PM should then take responsibility for all civilian casualties in his country and in Lebanon.

  • Potter

    I guess that means that Israel must continue to bomb and then occupy all of Lebanon indefinitely until these people learn their lesson once and for all.

  • Old Nick

    “Kill them all! God will know His own!”

    – Pope Innocent III (The most ironically named pontiff in history?)

  • Potter

    The map link submitted above is from a biased source and not up to date but it gets updated here

    http://vitalperspective.typepad.com/vital_perspective_clarity/2006/07/new_map_of_beir.html

    By no means should either be offered as evidence of the meager damage done in Lebanon. That would be dishonest.

    This map of the whole of Lebanon July12-25 produced by the Sanayeh Relief Center in Lebanon of the bombing in all of Lebanon could also be biased but I offer it for balance.

    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6998/196/1600/lebanon%20map%20July%2012-25.jpg

  • Potter

    That link to the whole lebanon map does not seem to work. Try this

    map of areas of Lebanon bombed

  • Potter

    Sorry folks the link does not work as a link but if y ou cut and paste it it will work:

    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6998/196/1600/lebanon%20map%20July%2012-25.jpg

  • fiddlesticks

    A potted old nick offensive is upon us.

  • fiddlesticks

    I asked above who will justify murder of Jews in Seattle and potter apologist for Muslim terrorism did justify it:

    “The Seattle violence would not have happened without what we are seeing and reading plastered all over the media…”

    Once again Jews are blamed for the violence perpetrated against them.

    They are no doubt also responsible for Mel Gibson’s antisemitic outburst.

  • jdyer

    Here is a Haaretz editorial on the war:

    Only after a clear success

    By Haaretz Editorial

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/743210.html

    from the editorial:

    “The army’s fighting ranks are characterized by determination and even enthusiasm, but the higher command ranks and the politicians look as if they have been frozen in a huge ice cube – the trauma of the Lebanon War. The concern that they may be repeating that unfortunate adventure is paralyzing their steps to such an extent that they are themselves creating a new trauma, that of a home front helplessly being hit by Katyushas.

    Israel cannot allow itself to be drawn into a war of attrition, with mounting casualties both on the front and in the rear, that will end in a weak whisper of a draw – which is effectively a victory for Hezbollah. The public in Israel understands very well what Rice also understands: a hasty end to the military operations, without any gains, will result in a renewal of the fighting in a few weeks.”

    read it all.

  • jdyer

    “The map link submitted above is from a biased source …”

    as opposed to Potter’s link which is of a different biased source.

  • jdyer

    Another great Haaretz article:

    A glossary of delusions

    By Aluf Benn

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/743207.html

    from the article:

    “Nostalgia. How nice it would be to return to the old world of before the crisis, to the days when reality corresponded to ideology. The right longs for the greater Israel of “the pre-Oslo days,” and the left longs for the small and just Israel of “the days before the occupation” – as if it were possible to go back to either one. In the absence of a time tunnel, this yearning is just an expression of frustration.

    The international community. Over the last two to three years, a new ritual has evolved in Israel. Instead of the approach of the Ben-Gurion era – “what matters is what the Jews do, not what the gentiles say” – we now believe that the “international community” is our savior from the conflict with the Arabs. This time, we are hoping that a foreign force will fight instead of the Israel Defense Forces against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Rafah. For the most part, we ask the world “to apply pressure” on Syria, Iran, Mahmoud Abbas, and others so that they will act differently. If that does not help, and it usually does not, Israel will at least be viewed as a desirable partner for the “good guys” against the “bad guys,” and the foreign ministers of other countries will be able to demonstrate “involvement” – which is another word for “hot air.” “

  • Potter

    I did at least say it could be biased when I offered if you would only read jdyer in stead of accuse.

    Go to http://www.nytimes.com/pages/world/middleeast/index.html and click on Interactive Graphic:Attacks Day by Day Then in the left column where the dates are click “show all” to get a good map of all the attacks reported in the NYTimes from both sides. You can see the number of attacks into Israel and the number of attacks into Lebanon. What this does not show is the devastation levels. This is the best I could find so far.

  • YOU BETTER ALL PRAY FOR ISRAEL TO WIN . OTHERWISE , YOU BETTER GET YOUR BURKAS AND FULL BEARDS READY

  • how would you like living with the suicide bombing terror?:

    warning this very graphichttp: //youtube.com/watch?v=Z1jNM8D2loU&mode=related&search=

  • Nico Jenkins

    This discussion is disgusting…it has run off the rails and soon jdyer and rachel and potter will all be pulling their hair out and gouging eyes. The news from Lebanon today is so very sad. Instead of upping the screaming, take a moment to breathe. Those children were not Hezbollah, they were not settlers, they were not zionists nor islamic fundametalists. They were children. And now they are dead. And they were killed with Israeli bombardments with armaments most likely supplied by America. It is sad and terrible and to scream and yell and point fingers and salt olive groves and blow up houses only compounds the problem.

  • jdyer

    How would you Nico deal with rocket attacks from a group that wishes to terrorize you into surrendering by firing missiles at your familiy from a crowded neighborhood?

    btw: Israel did give fair warning to all civilians in the area and did ask them to leave. It’s been reported by many news outlets that Hizbollah has been keeping civilians from fleeing.

    I also posted a link above to an article by an Australian paper that shows Hizbollah firing rockets at Israel from a crowded neighborhood:

    http://www.news.com.au/sundayheraldsun/story/0,,19955774-5007220,00.html

    If we allow Hizbollah to use civilians in war making without challenging them how many other groups of people out there will follow in their footsteps?

    I am not only thinking about Islamic groups, or only anarchists, etc. It could very well be extreme right wing groups like “The Aryan Nation,” or some other hate filled organization bent on imposing their will on the larger community.

    If you think that isssue begin and ends with Israel you are sorely mistaken, Nico.

  • jdyer

    Potter it is important to see that the bombing isn’t random and that the targerts are chosen because they pose a threat to Israel.

    Even the NY Times had noticed that while some areas in Beirut are in shambles other areas are hardly touched and people go about their business and sit around in coffe shops.

    You are intent on showing Israel as the villain.

    I do thank you for the link to the NY Times though since there was a piece there that I hadn’t seen about one of my favorite Israeli writers.

  • rc21

    The deaths of civillians is tragic no matter what side. The difference and it is an obvious difference,is that hezbollah is clearly to blame.

    It is strictly forbidden by all codes of war to hide and shield yourselves amongst civillian populations. Hezbollah as well as other terrorist organizations do this on a regular basis. One of the reasons is because they know Isreal will be forced to kill civillians in there effort to root out the terrorists. Thus creating a perfect visual for all of the media to show around the world.

    It is the media and the masses of clear thinking people throughout the world that need to understand this. Unfortunately much of the media and much of the world were looking for something like this to happen so they could jump up on there soap box and rail against the evil isrealis. Its a sad sick world we live in when the victims of this war are now painted as the evil aggresors.

  • Potter

    A welcome to our digusting discussion Nico where we all scream our heads off and accuse and defend and point fingers. And so you too are welcome to make your addition in the same spirit,to take a side and scream and accuse and point fingers…

    Thomas Friedman was excellent on “Meet the Press” You can watch online:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10005066/ or read the transcript http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14028605/

    I think he is repeating what was in his columns-good stuff:

    http://www.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/thomaslfriedman/

  • jdyer

    “where we all scream our heads off and accuse and defend and point fingers.”

    I don’t hear much screaming, just some vigorous disagreements and linking to many sided arguments.

    This is called a discussion.

  • jdyer

    Questions about a collapsed building:

    IDF: Qana building fell hours after strike

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3283816,00.html

    “(VIDEO) IDF continuing to check difficult incident at Qana village, and attempting to account for strange gap between time of the strike on the building – midnight – and eight in the morning, when the building collapsed”

    Hanan Greenberg

  • Nico Jenkins

    I was responding before to the racist and fearmongering taunts of Rachel…though I do think the stridency of the two regular posters on this thread to be wearying.

    jdyer, unless you are, or have family living, in Northern Israel, I think it is wrong for you to take their panic and fear and use it to accuse me, as in “How would you Nico deal with rocket attacks from a group that wishes to terrorize you into surrendering by firing missiles at your familiy from a crowded neighborhood?”

    I don’t know. I lived in lower Manhattan when the attacks of 9/11 brought the buildings down and I struggled with the issue then. I opposed the invasion of Afghanistan in the end though, but I might have welcomed Osama’s death for a while there. What I do know is that there was a moment when the world stood beside us, and but for the actions of a handful of war criminals in the White House, they would still stand by us.

    I felt a similar feeling after the death of Arafat and the incapacitation of Sharon; two nasty, mangy pit bulls finally gone. I thought, now, finally a chance to breathe, a chance to examine our sources, but I see the moment is now passed.

    Look, Hezbollah are a bunch of nasty, ill educated thugs. There is no doubt about it. But why are they there? Why do they exist? Could they exist without certain Israeli actions, actions which may be long in the past, like the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, like Sabra and Chattila? And there is no doubt Israel and the US can, and will eventually, wipe them out. But what then? Didn’t Israel invade in 1982 to drive the PLO out of Lebanon? And they succeeded and look what replaced them? Hezbollah. Who will replace Hezbolla? Is it not brutally ironic that now Israel is fighting two wars against two creatures they either indirectly created, like Helbollah, or directly funded like Hamas?

    I am not anti semitic,(coming as I do from a jewish background) but I am anti zionist and by extension, unfortunatly, anti Israel. I believe Israel should have the cultural background, given its proximity to the west, to be wiser, less brutal, less nasty than they have always proved themselves to be.

    My plea is that we try to discuss things like human beings, not repeating the same sad arguments of Sharon and Arafat. Why do we not move beyond that?

  • jdyer

    Nico Jenkins Says:

    “…though I do think the stridency of the two regular posters on this thread to be wearying.”

    Hey, it’s still a free country, so feel free to disregard our posts.

  • jdyer

    “jdyer, unless you are, or have family living, in Northern Israel, I think it is wrong for you to take their panic and fear and use it to accuse me,…”

    accuse you? I didn’t accuse you of a damn thing.

    I had relatives living in Manhattan at the time of 9/11 and I do know people who live in Northern Israel. However this isn’t about them or about you or about me.

    I am asking readers to consider the possibility of a world in which gangs of people hide behind civilians and terrorize whole societies. This is happening in many parts of the world and it could happen here too.

    My question is” how do we deal with this. Do we turn the world into a Somalia were the choice is between raging gangs or an Islamic (or Christian authoritarian) world order?

    Absent some realistic thinking about these matters these I am afraid will become the choices we face. It is a choice of “nightmares as Joseph Conrad might have said.

  • jdyer

    “but I might have welcomed Osama’s death for a while there. What I do know is that there was a moment when the world stood beside us, and but for the actions of a handful of war criminals in the White House, they would still stand by us.

    I felt a similar feeling after the death of Arafat and the incapacitation of Sharon; two nasty, mangy pit bulls finally gone. I thought, now, finally a chance to breathe, a chance to examine our sources, but I see the moment is now passed.”

    So Nico wants to passively wait till all the nasty people “pass away.”

    Sorry, Nico, you may have to dirty your thought if not your hands and assist in this fantasy of yours.

    “Could they exist without certain Israeli actions, actions which may be long in the past, like the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, like Sabra and Chattila? And there is no doubt Israel and the US can, and will eventually, wipe them out. But what then? Didn’t Israel invade in 1982 to drive the PLO out of Lebanon? And they succeeded and look what replaced them? Hezbollah. Who will replace Hezbolla? Is it not brutally ironic that now Israel is fighting two wars against two creatures they either indirectly created, like Helbollah, or directly funded like Hamas?”

    No it is not ironic since it did not create these “creatures.”

    Hizbollah was from the beginning created and funded by Iranian Hizbollah, this is the name of the governing party in Iran. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood which was founded in the 1920’s.

    Yes, all actions will get you some unexpected reactions. This though is not a recipe for inaction.

    The PLO was bad enough and looking for an alternative to that organization was the right thing to do at the time.

    The PLO moderated its stance, or hid its real agenda depending on your point of view after the fall of their patron the Soviet Union.

    Remember that Israel turned to them for negotiations.

    It also withdrew from Lebanon and from Gaza, etc.

    However, Israel has to deal with the current situation and not second guess itself each step it takes. That will only lead to paralysis. There are downsides to every alternative. Yet there are also opportunities.

  • jdyer

    Nico,

    “I am not anti semitic,(coming as I do from a jewish background) but I am anti zionist and by extension, unfortunatly, anti Israel.”

    Being Jewish has never stopped some people from embracing antisemitism. (Antisemitism as an ideology takes many forms but all have as their ultimate aim the elimination of the Jewish people whether through genocide, massacres, expulsion, or assimilation. A number of Jews fantasize that assimilation is the answer to antisemitims when its really one of the measn for attaining its aims.)

    Antizionims is the chief mode that antisemitims is taking these days.

    You say you come from a “Jewish background.” What does that mean exactly?

    How do you see yourself as “Jewish?”

  • Old Nick

    “Hezbollah is an evil, terrorist organization.�

    Most of the paragraph following that sentence (from this thread at 8:57AM, July 30th) is valid; but to characterize Hezbollah as ‘evil’ is wholly subjective and therefore unenlightening, while calling it ‘terrorist’ is overly simplistic.

    1. Hezbollah is Lebanese, not Palestinian. So why do they hate Israel?

    2. Hezbollah is Shi’ite; Palestinians are (mostly) Sunni. Aren’t Shi’a and Sunni historically as hostile to one another as Greeks and Turks, or Croats and Serbs? Why do Hezbollah disregard their blood-feud with all those Sunni ‘heretics’ and hate Israel instead?

    Is it, as many allege, a simple case of economic inequity: a ‘poor-man’s envy’ of affluent Israel?

    No: As many Hezbollah are engineers and other educated professionals as poor. (NPR)

    Hezbollah militants who die in violent operations are actually less likely to come from poor homes than their nonmilitant contemporaries and more likely to have a secondary school education (S. Atran, New York Times, May 5, 2003).

    Hezbollah as an armed party had forged for itself a nearly autonomous fiefdom in southern Lebanon: it has no (apparent) rational reason for claims on the lands to its south.

    Q: What then motivates Hezbollah?

    A: “For Muslims, no piece of land once added to the realm of Islam can ever be finally renounced…� – http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp463.htm and http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19981101facomment1428/bernard-lewis/license-to-kill-usama-bin-ladin-s-declaration-of-jihad.html

    – which of course means Palestine (and even Spain!)

    What motivates Hezbollah?

    Jihad.

    Religion.

    Which includes anti-Semitism – real anti-Semitism, sanctified in scripture – and cultural xenophobia:

    “You see among them many making friends with unbelievers. Evil is that to which their souls prompt them. They have incurred the wrath of God and shall endure eternal torment… You will find that the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful are the Jews and the pagans, and the nearest in affection to them are those who say: ‘We are Christians.’� (Koran: 5:80-82)

    (And yet this example is mild in comparison to many others—but worthy of quotation because the deranged Seattle murderer actually converted to Christianity last year. [Source: KUOW, Seattle])

    And yet it’s as pointless to hate the human beings possessed by this memetic parasite as it is to hate the fleas that carry plague. They’re vectors, not the pathogen itself.

    The human beings who order their women and children to remain in the southern Lebanon war zone instead of allowing them to flee are just as pitiable as the innocent victims on both sides.

    They are killing and dying for unverifiable belief in one 7th century man’s supernatural fantasia.

    Tell me that isn’t pitiable.

    On last consideration. Jihad earns its warriors eternal paradise, as per this reminder:

    “Never think that those who were slain in the cause of God are dead. They are alive, and well provided for by their Lord; pleased with His gifts and rejoicing that those they left behind, who have not yet joined them, have nothing to fear or regret; rejoicing in God’s grace and bounty. God will not deny the faithful their reward.� (Koran: 3:169)

  • Well Nicola you woke up ! got your attention .This terror has been going on for years …………People like you don’t seem to wake up to protest when little Israeli children are blown into bloody pieces .Hezbollah are psychotic killers who would not blink an eye to kill you . its unfortunate the parents of these children decided to protect such killers.As a matter of fact they are very proud their children will become martyrs for the cause…..Thanks for warning us you are not anti-Semitic …I guess you have good friends who are Jewish!

  • Potter

    A.B. Yehoshua interviewed by Deborah Solomon in this article : A Haifa Life says about his latest novel written during the 2nd intifada ( which started in 2000)

    I wrote the book during the second intifada, when the question was what to do with these constant deaths. Israeli society, I saw, was repressing these deaths. When a bus or restaurant was blown up, the bus was taken away, the streets were cleaned and normal life returned. This was a kind of a formula — we have to keep normal life. We don’t have to be affected by this, as we don’t know how to mourn. The heart was becoming hard, very hard. And this was the place which I wanted as a writer to open.

    I was speaking to a relative today who lives in Jerusalem. A sweeter woman you will never know. She was very sad and she was not happy to talk about the situation but could not avoid it either. (I can’t keep track of how many times I have felt my heart sinking lately- this morning when I heard the news of Qana…) She said “yes but now we are winning” in a sorrowful voice. Nobody, I imagine, says “we are winning” in happy voice. Nobody really wants to talk about it either. It’s like having cancer- what is the use of talking about it? You try to make the best out of your daily life; you try not to dwell on it.

    Only here can we hash this out endlessly.

    Contrary to what jdyer has said above I am not intent on showing Israel as the villian. I started off knowing Hezbollah as the villain and I have never absolved them. But Israel appears to too many to be the villian all by itself without me. Many people who love Israel are saying that this war is doing more harm than good for Israel. I feel that way too.

    Like the people who clean the streets right away after a suicide bombing, the awful news that has been coming out of Lebanon gets either repressed right away or avoided altogether. I fear this is what is going on in Israel just as we avoid news about Iraq. If Israeli’s are not being told, then they also do not want to know. This is a time to repress. The soul-searching will come later. Maybe they cannot know and continue normally and in Israel they have to continue normally.

    I don’t think Israel is so strong. I know the tremendous military might, but behind that somehow I feel that Israel is also very fragile. It’s just a feeling that I cannnot explain.

  • rc21

    Isreal is fragile. If you want an explanation,just look at a map. There is about 100 million arabs that would just assume Isreal dissapear.Most of Europe wouldnt mind either.

  • Nico maybe this will make you understand the danger http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6162397493278181614&hl=en

  • Old Nick

    Rachel: “Hezbollah are psychotic killers who would not blink an eye to kill you.”

    I won’t argue the statement, but I’d like to pose this,

    Question: What, in your opinion, makes Hezbollah “psychotic killers”?

  • Old Nick

    Sorry. I should have asked it like this:

    What, in your opinion, makes Hezbollah into psychotic killers?

    Genes? Culture? Their mothers or fathers?

    Other?

  • Brendan

    Hey guys, we have to pull this thread into the show on Monday night. The conversation itself has wandered a bit, which is fine, but let me throw the original question back in here and see what happens.

    srael has to fight a war every decade or so; every citizen spends at least two years in military service, and a grudging acceptance of the inevitable return of war seems part of what it means to be Israeli.

    Is this, as Etgar Keret suggests, a better war, a clearer war for Israel? A war like the ones they remember, in 1967, in 1973? Israel has perched on the edge of the sea for most of a century now; what does it do to a country to live under the threat of violence, and with the need to strike back hard, for four generations?

    So we want to take a look at how the constant threat over decades from a number of different of Arab countries — and now Iran — has shaped Israeli society. Anyone?

  • jdyer

    ” Israel has perched on the edge of the sea for most of a century now; what does it do to a country to live under the threat of violence, and with the need to strike back hard, for four generations?”

    This is a leading question, but I’ll answer it.

    From a certain point of view the dangers Israel is facing are a continuation of the dangers the Jewish people have faced for thousands of years. Living on the edge of destruction has shaped the Jewish life and culture.

    The choice isn’t between living in “peace” without Israel or living with the constant threat of war. The choice is between being able to defend oneself and being at the mercy of others without being able to defend oneself.

    Now, to really know how constant warfare has shaped Jewish consciousness in Israel you will need to study its culture: read the fiction and poetry being published there and the films being produced.

    You can also ask yourself how is it that a country at war could have become so advanced technologically. The economy in Israel is a magent for investors.

    Recently two of its companies were sold to international investors to the tune of about 10 billion dollars. One was sold to Warren Buffet and the other to some high tech company.

    All in all I would say that Jews in Israel have shown themselves to be as resilient and productive in the face of danger as have their forefathers who faced pogroms, expulsion, and genocide.

    How has the constant threat of warfare affected Jewish life there? I believe it has made the people more innovative, defiant, and spiritually strong.

  • jdyer

    “Many people who love Israel are saying that this war is doing more harm than good for Israel. I feel that way too.”

    We disagree, then.

  • jdyer

    “Most of the paragraph following that sentence (from this thread at 8:57AM, July 30th) is valid; but to characterize Hezbollah as ‘evil’ is wholly subjective and therefore unenlightening, while calling it ‘terrorist’ is overly simplistic.”

    Well, any organization which says that it makes no distinction between civilians and soldiers is to my mind wicked.

    It is evil the way that people out to commit genocide are evil.

    Calling it evil doesn’t mean that one can’t go on to explain its existence from socio-political and other points of view.

    Refusing to call it evil or wicked is to my mind a refusal to condemn its viscious and deliberate attacks on innocent people.

  • jdyer

    Here is an important editorial on antizionism:

    http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/29859/format/html/displaystory.html

    Anti-Zionist Jews can’t have it both ways

    “Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: Criticizing Israel and disagreeing with the whims of its government doesn’t automatically make you an anti-Zionist or an anti-Semite.

    And far be it from us to tell people what they’re entitled to think. Both here and in the Jewish state, anti-Zionists are free to speak their minds — just as we are to speak ours and say they’re wrong. So that’s what we’re going to do.

    At the Sunday, July 23 Israel Solidarity Rally in San Francisco, a few dozen anti-Zionist Jews — self-proclaimed anti-Zionist Jews with cardboard placards to prove it — were on the scene.

    Jews criticizing the very existence of Jewish state are making a calculated statement. Their Jewishness is intended to provide some sort of moral authority.

    Again, that is their right, even if we vehemently disagree with them. But at this rally, any cloak of moral authority the anti-Zionist Jews were wrapping themselves in unraveled in short order.

    Just an arm’s length from the troupe of extreme Jewish critics of Israel, a group of youthful Arabs bedecked in kaffyehs and red, green and white Palestinian accoutrements chanted their support for Hezbollah and showered the pro-Israel crowd with Hitlerian salutes while shouting “Seig Heil,� cupping their hands to their faces to imitate hooknoses and shouting about how Jews supposedly smelled like excrement.

    It’s a bit of a tautology, but anti-Semitic bigots do anti-Semitic, bigoted things. It’s sad, it’s maddening, but it’s no surprise.

    What was surprising was that, as far as we could see, none of their Jewish brothers-in-arms stepped in and did a damn thing about it or made any effort to disassociate themselves from a textbook display of Jew hatred.

    You can’t have it both ways.”

    read the rest

  • Nicola how old are you?.Young I suppose .Go see this movie….you will understand http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/events.htm

  • Old Nick

    Brendan, your question is proper and I respect it. Even so, it effectively limits the blog to Israelis or to people familiar with Israel. Still, I think I can conclude this post by posing a variant or two of your question (memetic adaptations!) even while responding to this:

    jdyer: If my posts aren’t “condemn(ations of) vicious and deliberate attacks on innocent people�, then I don’t know what is.

    Here’s a relevant question to ponder: were the bomber crews of the B-29’s that incinerated Japanese cities in 1945 ‘evil’ – or were they simply organic cogs in the American military machinery of destruction? Was the military machinery ‘evil’ – or is evil distinguishable only in the eye of the beholder?

    To Islamists, Israel is ‘evil’ simply for existing on land conquered long ago by Islam. Why? Because their scripture says so. Their scriptures define ‘evil’ even more plainly than my revulsion at their actions can: because unlike them, I must continuously analyze the sickness in my empathy to come to unhappy terms with their use of atrocity to advance their ‘cause’. Meanwhile, the Koran spares Islamists of this same introspection: it states plainly that Jews are superior to ‘pagans’ (which includes Buddhists and Hindus, who deserve nothing but death and hell) but inferior to Christians—who are nevertheless damnable infidels to Islam.

    It doesn’t matter whether you, I, or anyone else condemns Hezbollah as ‘evil’ – they exist in their own moral universe that believes Satan lives in our ‘souls’.

    Now, just because I point to a real and original source of the Middle East’s manifest hatreds doesn’t make my efforts into ‘excuses’ for Islamists. Uncritical adherence to religious scriptures, and the concomitant culture of intolerance, xenophobia, and religious imperialism is the original source of what you deem ‘evil’.

    Yet Muslims are hardly the first to fall prey to this memetic possession: have a look at the Books of Joshua and Judges for direct memetic antecedents.

    Meanwhile, in the time between the writings of Joshua and the Koran, the Crusaders (glamorized last year by Hollywood) had a habit that I’m quite sure didn’t make their recent movie’s final cut: impaling children on stakes cut and sharpened from small trees.

    Living children. Children guilty only of have been born into the wrong faith.

    What do the writers of Judges, the Crusaders, and the followers of Mohamed all have in common? Abrahamic religion: a sequence of ingenious adaptations of the ‘revealed religion’ meme ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revealed_religion ) that has caused far more human misery than can ever be empirically justified.

    To turn this back to Brendan’s question:

    It’s a military maxim that that battles and wars are won by attacking the enemy’s weaknesses, not his strengths.

    It’s also as obvious as the nose on my face that Israel’s regional isolation has instilled a ‘siege mentality’ in its population. (How not, considering the nearby enemies and their inimical hatreds?)

    Adding these together: is it possible that Israel’s necessary siege-preparedness has

    1) bred a militaristic subculture whose most obvious manifestation is the IDF?

    2) and that this subculture’s historical successes against Arab states bred an overconfidence that completely missed the ingenious Hezbollah memetic adaptation of nesting its arms amid civilians? – which…

    3) …left Israel attacking its enemy’s strengths instead of its weaknesses?

    Look, I can’t condone anything done by Hezbollah; but their choice to define powerless and cowering civilians as ‘martyrs’—and then to televise their agonized deaths—is as effectively a strength as it is an atrocity.

    My proof? Israel was forced to bow to international pressure after the calamity at Qana. I can call it ‘dastardly’ and unconscionable (and much, much worse) to nest missiles amid civilians, but my opinion is utterly meaningless so long as the real motivations of the jihadis remain disguised by the tacit global convention that religions in general and ‘revealed’ religions in particular are ‘off limits’ for critical and/or scientific analysis.

    My final question is this: is it fair to compare Israel to a wealthy and well-armed African-American family that has moved into a poor and undereducated Klan neighborhood? And is it only then a matter of time before the neighbors figure out a way to sneak incendiaries into the house?

  • Old Nick

    Correction: “Meanwhile, in the time following the writings of Joshua and the Koran…”

    (Too tired to think clearly.)

    And for anyone uncertain of this ‘meme’ thing, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

    As a metaphor for the evolution of ideas, ‘memes’ are said to work like genes: adapting within the hosting minds for improved reproductive opportunities. Daniel Dennett likens some memes to the common cold: constantly evolving fresh means of infectiveness, and offering little or no value to the host body.

    I tend to agree: beleifs that get their hosts killed sure don’t serve the host. Fanaticism serves only the perpetuation of the belief.

    This is obviously at work in the Middle East as I write this.

  • jdyer

    Nick,

    I don’t accept your view of what constitutes “evil.” On the one hand your view is too relativistic and on the other hand it is too absolute.

    “Here’s a relevant question to ponder: were the bomber crews of the B-29’s that incinerated Japanese cities in 1945 ‘evil’ – or were they simply organic cogs in the American military machinery of destruction? Was the military machinery ‘evil’ – or is evil distinguishable only in the eye of the beholder?”

    The bombing of of Japan was part of the war effort to defeat an enemy which had attacked the US just as it had earleir conquered China and other East Asian countries.

    To defeat an aggressive and yes evil regime like that of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany it may be necessary to use overwhleming force. To call such an endeavor evil because the enemy calls it so is to misuse language.

    What can the term evil mean in the mouths of people who are trying to eliminate whole societies?

    It’s the amount of lethal force that you use that makes one evil its the ultimate aim of that force used.

    We were trying in Japan and Germany to get these countries to surrender in order to establish peace. We were not trying to annihilate these countries the way they were trying to annihilate us.

    The same is true mutatis mutandis in the struggle against Islamicism.

  • jdyer

    I should add Nick that Germany and Japan were a lot more prosperous after WW2 than they were before. They also have been living in peace with their neighbors for over a century and have added greatly to modern civilizaton in areas such as music, art, science, and medicine.

    Had we been evil we would never have allowed these societies to develop the way the did.

    The Islamicists on the other hand have as their aim both the conquest and elimination of Israel and other non Islamic societies and they view economic and social prosperity as an evil which detracts them from their Jihad.

    Nasrallah is quoted somewhere as having said that Lebanon needs to substitute “martydom for tourism.” It’s economic prosperity which is viewed as an enemy by these Islamicists.

  • Potter

    The quote above I gave from A.B. Yehosua in yesterday’s NYTimes says a lot about what it does to a society to live under threat of violence and the need to go to war.

    As to whether this is a “better” war or a “clearer” war I would say “yesâ€? for two reasons:

    The first is that this provocation occurred across international boundaries, whereas the conflict with Palestinians is more muddied by moral responsibilities towards an occupied population, no established borders leaving Israel open to claim territory for all sorts of corrupting reasons, including religious and (ancient) historical.

    (It’s no small matter that Israeli’s feel that they did the right thing leaving Lebanon 6 years ago despite opposition from many within and leaving the northern border vulnerable.)

    The other reason is the nature of the opposition. With Hezbollah ( and Hamas) you have enemies that say they want your annihilation. Jews take this seriously and with good reason it pushes a button. Jews have been there before, facing annihilation and they don’t have trouble believing it could happen again. Whether Hezbollah and Hamas combined could accomplish this with all their rockets or whether they are simply a nuisance that can be handled is immaterial. The reaction is triggered.

    Israel’s weakness is the deep lack of confidence and trust carried forward from a traumatic past, most especially the horror of the Holocaust, of which many of it’s citizens have first hand knowledge, from which the state was born. That makes a picture of a superarmed bully-monster in constant in need of satisfying an almost pathological (understandable and tragic) insecurity. In the process this precipitates the very ends Israel seeks to avoid. Isn’t this Greek tragedy? ( Oh I can already read the knocks I am going to get about “psychologizing�).

    Paul Krugman today in his NYTimes column says ( comparing the US war in Iraq based on the fantasy that “Shock and Awe� would cause Islamic radicals to give up) Krugman should look to psychology:

    ….. the results of going to war on the basis of that fantasy were predictably disastrous: the fiasco in Iraq has ended up demonstrating the limits of U.S. power, strengthening radical Islam — especially radical Shiites allied with Iran, a group that includes Hezbollah — and losing America the moral high ground.

    What I never expected was that Israel — a nation that has unfortunately had plenty of experience with both war and insurgency — would be susceptible to similar fantasies. Yet that’s what seems to have happened.

    ……….. Israel’s decision to rely on shock and awe rather than either diplomacy or boots on the ground, like the U.S. decision to order the U.N. inspectors out and invade Iraq without sufficient troops or a plan to stabilize the country, is having the opposite of its intended effect. Hezbollah has acquired heroic status, while Israel has both damaged its reputation as a regional superpower and made itself a villain in the eyes of the world.

    (Brendan- it has not been “most of a century� but less than 60 years for the state of Israel.)

  • jdyer

    James Carroll of the Boston Globe wrote:

    “Much of this is new, but the apocalyptic energy of this hatred, running from Gaza City to Tehran, draws on currents that run deep in history. The fury of anti-Israel rage among Arabs and Muslims is accounted for only partially by the present conflict. It resuscitates — and then draws breath from — the long European habit of scapegoating Jews. The fantasy that Arab and Muslim problems will be solved by the elimination of Israel partakes of the old European illusion that climaxed in the 20th century. No one should think that embedded contempt for Jews — anti-Semitism — is not part of the current crisis. Nor should anyone think that fresh consequences of that contempt are limited to the Middle East.”

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/07/17/new_conflicts_in_an_old_war?mode=PF

  • jdyer

    To see how Jews in Israel are coping with the latest war against them read some of the commentators in the media who mourn the deaths on both sides and compare this to the commentators on the Arab side who see nothing but “Israeli aggression and evil.”

    Sorry, world

    “World slams ‘barbarian Jews’ but forgets 7-year-old Israeli killed by Hizbullah rockets”

    Guy Benyovits is Ynet’s News Editor

    Here is how the powerful lament ends:

    “We didn’t do all this, because we’re proud of ourselves and our strength. We don’t rush to whine to the UN and to the media. We bite our lips and continue, because there’s no choice.

    So sorry, Omer, because we only need to apologize to you. And only then to the children of Qana.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3284163,00.html

  • Potter

    jdyer thank you for the James Carroll article.

    This article on Iran by Michael Slackman of the NYTimes offers some further insight: War Offers New Strength, and Sudden Weakness

  • Old Nick

    This weekend’s On The Media — http://www.onthemedia.org — features a brilliant segment on perceptions of media bias in coverage of the Middle East conflict:

    “Shankar Vedantam wrote this week in the Washington Post, studies show that the partisans who lob most of the criticism are predisposed to see bias, for the simple reason that they care.�

    These perceptions of bias make it into ‘letters to the editor’ (and into blogs like ROS) because the ‘partisans’ worry that the ‘neutral’ will be misled. Thus, paradoxically, the more informed the writers are, the less nuanced and balanced are their writings.

    (This dynamic, imho, is obvious in this thread.)

    I strongly recommend the segment to all.

    Also relevant to this thread and its show from a previous edition of OTM:

    “BROOKE GLADSTONE: As we slice and dice the coverage, we find, as in most media analysis, but especially this story, that no observer is truly neutral; that the idea of a solid middle ground from which we can judge others who seem so hopelessly stuck in the bogs of ideology is a myth…�

    “J.J. GOLDBERG: On the right, the bloggers are going on and on about those horrible Muslims, the horrible Arabs, and on the left, there’s been an unwillingness to get into it. You don’t want to get into the sort of invective you’re going to get from your readers, whichever side you take.

    â€?There’s been for years a readiness in the Jewish community to jump down the throat of any journalist who made Israel sound bad, and in the last couple of years we’ve seen a comparable readiness on the side of the pro-Palestinian community and the anti-Israel community, I would say, to jump down the throat of people who make Israel look good. So people are afraid to put their toe in the water these days…â€?

    “J.J. GOLDBERG: …The big issue here is that the story changed. Up until five years ago, Israel’s primary opponent was el-Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, and they were fighting for a Palestinian state. It was about where you put the border between the two peoples.

    â€?Over the last three, four, five years, you’ve seen an increasing role of Muslim fundamentalist militias, both in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories, whose goal is not to create a Palestinian state but to eliminate the Israeli state. And we haven’t caught up with that. We don’t know how to explain the imbalance in that, that it really is, at this point, from Israel’s point of view, a struggle for survival.â€?

    “…There’s the side on the Arab side that wants to restore Palestinian rights alongside Israel, and there’s the side on the Arab side that wants to eliminate the state of Israel. There are many, many voices, and it’s hard to cover all of them at the same time.“

    http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/transcripts_072106_a.html

  • houstonDave

    Brendan So we want to take a look at how the constant threat over decades from a number of different of Arab countries — and now Iran — has shaped Israeli society. Anyone?

    Except for Iran, the real threat is not from countries, but from terrorist organizations that have no clearly defined geographic area, nor uniforms, nor diplomatic corps, etc. Once, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had an army that could make Israel take notice, but with that threat damaged in 1991 and destroyed in 2003, the idea of nation vs. nation warfare has been put on the back burner. Israel now has to deal with suicide bombers and fanatical clerics who have the bad taste to hide out among civilian populations to ensure the maximum “collateral damage” when Israel responds to their attacks.

  • scribe5

    I don’t know how much support they have in Lebanon but this proclamation should be better known:

    http://cedarsrevolution.org/

    HEZBOLLAH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MASSACRE

    Written by Admin

    Sunday, 30 July 2006

    WORLD COUNCIL OF THE CEDARS REVOLUTION

  • The bent logic that bombing a building full of kids because maybe a rocket was fired nearby is equal to the idea that Israeli towns and cities are legitimate targets since some of the people there can be called up to join the battle.

    This logic of total war, carried out since the end of WWI and perfected in WWII, can only seem normal or legitimate to people who have lost all sense of human dignity.

  • scribe5

    “The bent logic that bombing a building full of kids because maybe a rocket was fired nearby is equal to the idea that Israeli towns and cities are legitimate targets since some of the people there can be called up to join the battle.”

    Who holds to that logic?

    btw: the rockets were no fired “nearby” but from building which may have civilians in them. This is an existential fact, not a logical proposition. I am sure as President sidewalker you would rather let your own people die rather than risk hitting an enemy position because it might harm some civilians.

    Notice that I am not talking about any specific case since the bombings that unfortunately killed those civilians is still under investigation and unlike sidewalker I would rather wait till the findings are in before I decide to shoot off my mouth and yell moral equivalence from the rooftops.

  • Ben

    Does anyone know when (and the duration of) the longest sustained period of peace in the Levant happened? Curious.

  • maotalk

    This item was also in Ha’aretz at the time. Is Hezbollah using Israeli weapons against the Israelis. Ask the Ha’aretz reporter about this:

    The Jerusalem Post

    August 29, 2002, Thursday

    HEADLINE: Germany stops Israeli arms en route to Iran

    BYLINE: Margot Dudkevitch

    A shipment including military equipment belonging to an Israeli company and destined for Iran was impounded in Hamburg, according to a German customs authority report confirmed by the Defense Ministry last night.

    A ministry statement stressed that Israel “prohibits the sale of military equipment, spare parts, and weapons of any kind to Iran,” and will turn the matter over to the police for investigation. The statement noted that the Israeli firm had received permission to export the items after it declared their final destination was Thailand……….

  • joshua hendrickson

    We’re doomed.

    If this is where mankind is heading, then we’re doomed, and the fundamentalists win their godly cinder.

    Give peace a chance?

    Not for this form of life.

  • joshua hendrickson

    “Pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere out in space ‘cos there’s bugger-all down here on Earth.”

    –M. Python

  • “If the Arab is the Zionist’s other then the Jew (ans the Christian) is the Arab’s other. Arabs have had a difficult time dealing with his other(s) for over a thousand years.””

    I haven’t read the entire thread, so I hope I’m not duplication a line of thought here, but I believe that the Muslims have historically been the tolerant ones. When the Muslims controlled Jerusalem, they were quite welcoming to Jews, did not apply Sharia taxes to them and protected anyone that lived inside their boundaries. It was the Christians that started slaughtering everyone and leaving no room for people to have beliefs different than their own.

    This is why I find it ironic that the Muslims and Jews have become so incompatible in recent history. And that the Israelis trust support from the Christian west. What have we ever done but destroy them? Sure, we finally went in and stopped World War II, but then we said, “How unacceptable what has happened to you, now please move somewhere else.” (I know that it’s not that simple. Zionists wanted to relocate to Jerusalem, but we were oh so ready to accomodate and to avoid dealing with the anti-semitism in Europe and the US.)

    On another note, I have a question: Did Hezbollah invade Israel at the beginning of this round of warring? I havn’t researched any links but I remember reading somewhere that the soldiers were captured in Lebanese territory, not kidnapped from Israeli territory? Is this true?

  • Potter
  • Oh, here’s one link:

    http://www.forbes.com/technology/feeds/ap/2006/07/12/ap2873051.html

    If these men were captured in Lebanese territory, what were they doing there?

  • Potter

    Allison: The Forbes report contradicts the NYTimes report I linked above and this BBC report:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5171616.stm

  • Allison, it is all depends on who you listen to. This is all so full of propoganda on all sides (with one fundamentalist point of view dominating this thread) that it is hard to really know what is true, let alone right.

    For example, I heard in the news that the type of missiles claimed by the Israeli military to be launched in Qana cannot be launched from a building. So how is this a legitimate military target? And both sides use civilians for shields, so there is just a lot of rationalization as part of the logic of total war.

    Clearly what is not acceptable is the murder of civilians and the way some leaders in the “enlightened and civilized” world sit by and let it happen for their own political and financial ends. But what is new.

  • That should have read “propaganda”

  • hass

    The way the issue is framed is interesting – Israel is “defending itself” from an “existential threat” etc etc – Israel is always the victim, merely reacting against other people’s “hatred” and “antiSemitism” —

    I have to wonder whether this insistence on monopolizing the victim status, which is intended to undermine any moral legitimacy for Israel’s opponents — doesn’t in the long run work against Israel. This constant casting of one-self as a victim of other people’s evil is really becoming a crutch for ISrael, which prevents Israel from not only acheiving a peace settlement with its neighbors but it also prevents Israel engaging in the sort of self-reflection necessary to figure a way out of the current impasse.

    We keep hearing from the Israelis about how them evil Muslims/Arabs/Anti-Semites are hellbent on “pushing the Jews into the sea” and “deny our right to exist” etc. If you’re not willing to even consider for a moment that YOU are pushing THEM “into the sea” and YOU are denying THEIR right to exist, then how can you ever hope to make any peace?

  • Yes, sidewalker, I find this all confusing. I mean, if the problem is that Hezbollah has not been extracted from Lebanon, have there been a lot of efforts on the part of the US, the UN to pressure Lebanon to do so? Seems like everyone knows exactly how many rockets Hezbollah has. So they weren’t operating under any great shield of secrecy.

    And, I, too, have heard that the rockets being fired at Israel are mobile. Making claims that buildings are legitimate targets a little discredited.

    So, why is everybody ok with the loss of civilian life and the destruction of an instruction that the Lebanese have worked so hard to build?

    I suppose I’m not surprised. Historically, humans have chosen to brutalize one another and we don’t seem to be able to choose peace. Still, I like to keep the questions alive to buck against the justifications. It seems that we, the US, believe that our ‘democracy’ reigns morally supreme over other forms of government and so we can use this as justification for anything we do to anyone – when really we do it for our own financial gain. To question this is heresy.

    Zionists seem to believe that as The Chosen ones they can justify anything they do and we are anti-semitic to question them. And Arabs believe they are the Pure ones and to question them is defile them.

    The bottom line is that everybody doesn’t choose peaceful co-existence, we can simply expect all this to go on in perpetuity. I don’t see anybody out there actually advocation for peacful co-existence and the proactive dismantling of the extremist, aggressive factions on all sides. (I say all because this is not a two-sided conflict. So many factions have stakes in this from so many angles.)

  • Potter

    Sidewalker- “Allison, it is all depends on who you listen to. This is all so full of propoganda on all sides (with one fundamentalist point of view dominating this thread) that it is hard to really know what is true, let alone right.”

    The news reports were propaganda? There is a border line and either the soldiers were on one side or another. Did you go to all three links and see the difference in the reports? Did you look it up on your own reliable sources?

    People believe what they want to believe I guess.

  • hass

    All this boo-hooing about the “sanctity of borders” by Israel of course totally overlooks all the instances in which Israel has violated not just that particular border, but the borders of other countries to carry aout assassinations and kidnappings.

    If they respect borders so much, lets see them respect the 1967 border.

  • scribe5

    “The way the issue is framed is interesting – Israel is “defending itselfâ€? from an “existential threatâ€? etc etc – Israel is always the victim, merely reacting against other people’s “hatredâ€? and “antiSemitismâ€? –”

    no one is framing “anything.” This is who Israelis and most Jews view the issue.

    You are free to view in any other way, but don’t tell me how to experience reality.

    As for antisemitism, the first thing an antisemite does is to ignore the feelings and views of Jewish people.

    “We keep hearing from the Israelis about how them evil Muslims/Arabs/Anti-Semites are hellbent on “pushing the Jews into the seaâ€? and “deny our right to existâ€? etc. If you’re not willing to even consider for a moment that YOU are pushing THEM “into the seaâ€? and YOU are denying THEIR right to exist, then how can you ever hope to make any peace?”

    Ho sure, Herr Haas.

    Israel has pushed the Gazans and the Lebanese into the sea by withdrawking from their territory.

    They are surely denying the Arabs of Jordan, and Egypt right to exist by signing peace treaties with those countries.

  • jdyer

    Allison says:

    http://www.forbes.com/technology/feeds/ap/2006/07/12/ap2873051.html

    “If these men were captured in Lebanese territory, what were they doing there?”

    They were probably in the so called Shaba farms area, which Hizbollah claims for Lebanon but which the UN says belongs to Syria. Israel captured the postage area during the six day war in 1967 and is holding it along with the Golan in exchnage for a final peace treaty with Syria.

    Lebanon had never claimed the land as their till Hizboallah started using it as an excuse to attack Israelis.

    There is an excellent article about it which I’ll post in next.

    I must say that it’s really frustrating when people like Allison post links to articles they don’t bother to undersatand. In this case though I must say that the Ap report was either poorly written or is was edited in such away as to obscure the background.

  • jdyer

    Here is the article I was referring to above:

    Lebanon’s problem is not just Shaba Farms

    SHLOMO AVINERI, THE JERUSALEM POST

    Jul. 30, 2006

    “The emergence of the Shaba Farms as a possible item in an agreement authorizing a multinational force for South Lebanon raises a number of issues of which not all the participants in the current negotiations may be aware. They go deep into the question of the very existence of Lebanon as a sovereign state.

    What are the issues?

    In the 1923 Anglo-French Demarcation Agreement, which set the borders between the British and French mandates in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, the area was included in Syria. The maps of the 1949 Israeli-Syrian Armistice Agreements similarly designated the area as Syrian.

    In the 1967 Six Day War, the farms were occupied by the IDF as part of its conquest of the Golan Heights. Lebanon was not involved in that war, and Israel did not engage in any fighting against it.

    At that time, no one – neither Syria nor Lebanon – claimed that the area was Lebanese.

    IN THE negotiations leading to the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, Lebanon for the first time raised its claim to the farms, but based on all previous historical documents and maps, the UN sided with the Israeli version, i.e. that this was Syrian territory and subject to future Israeli-Syrian negotiations. The Lebanese claim was used by Hizbullah to continue its resistance to “Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory.”

    Nobody, however, believes that even if the farms were handed over to Lebanon, Hizbullah would stop its armed activities which are, after all, aimed at the destruction of the “Zionist entity in occupied Palestine.”

    SO FAR this seems straightforward – until Syria enters the picture.

    At the time of the 2000 Israeli withdrawal the UN asked Syria about its position on the issue. Damascus was in a quandary: On the one hand, this was obviously Syrian territory; on the other, if Syria conceded that the farms belong to Lebanon, there might be a chance of getting one more sliver of Arab territory out of Israeli hands….”

    Read the rest of the fascinating article:

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1153292036524&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    btw: The author is professor of political science at the Hebrew University.

  • jdyer

    “That should have read “propagandaâ€? ”

    sidewalker jumps to another false conclusion!

  • Potter, I was not specifically referring to the border incident. I should have made that clear.

    That said, there are differing reports on what happened in the press.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HG15Ak02.html

    So my point was that it is hard to know. Some media highlight one source and some a different source. Some also provide differing viewpoints. These sources, for example Hezbollah or the Israeli military, use propagada as one tactic. News media that normalize these souces of information can be seen as complicit.

  • scribe5

    “sidewalker jumps to another false conclusion!” That wouldn’t be the first time, JDyer.

    here is another case:

    “These sources, for example Hezbollah or the Israeli military, use propagada as one tactic. News media that normalize these souces of information can be seen as complicit.”

    What rubbish, comparing the Israeli military to Hizbollah.

    The Israeli military has been repeatedly criticized for not defending itself adequately in the media. How little do people like sidewalker know about Jews to think that they would put up with simple minded lies.

  • scribe5

    Thanks for SHLOMO AVINERI’s article it makes a lot of things clear to me.

  • Old Nick

    Sidewalker, forgive me please for riffing off of this: “News media that normalize these sources of information can be seen as complicit.�

    Likewise: “The global taboo that refuses to question the tenets, dogmas, and scriptures of ‘faith’ is directly complicit in the deaths of these same innocents.�

    — Old Nick, stealing from sidewalker.

  • scribe5: “How little do people like sidewalker know about Jews to think that they would put up with simple minded lies.”

    Did I say such a thing? More noise on your part?

    I hardly think all Jews would blindly accept the words of the authorities, (even with all the ideological conditioning any member of a socio-cultural receives), but obviously some in this thread are affraid to question the repeated shouts and murmurs, and those that do, Jew or otherwise, are attacked by the keepers of the faith.

  • huck finn

    Again, I am amazed at the apparent naiveté expressed. Indeed Mossad and Al are waging an on-going propaganda war on a grand scale.

    There is a long history of Israel’s media manipulation. For instance, the “palestinian“ attack on the Achille Lauro cruise ship was an Israeli “blackâ€? propaganda operation financed by illegal arms sales. The massacres by Philangists at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps were an Israeli media sleight-of-hand to divert the world press from the simultaneous poison gas operation led by Ariel Sharon against Palestinian “terrorists”. Not small potatoes, these. We could go on and on …

    I find discussions of anti-semitism tiresome. Just another type of bullying. Deflecting political and economic criticism as anti-semitism, like invoking patriotism, is just illogical. Similar to pornography, you know anti-semitism when you see it. Bias, propaganda, disinformation, and prestidigitation are quite a bit tougher to spot unless one really pays attention.

  • Old Nick, no worries.

    I was going to mention that discussion in this week’s On The Media about bias, but didn’t get around to it. Thanks for you thoroughness. It was interesting that the research showed people with a strong bias mostly worried about what more “neutral” people think. If any compromise and peace agreement is to be reached, that worry will have to be turned to self-reflection, but that means questioning the faiths and structures on which we try hopelessly to build security against the intransient winds of life. How I wish it were easier.

  • Potter

    HelloSidewalker, If you give me a Syrian political analyst ( in AsiaTimes) versus Steve Erlanger/Greg Myre in the New York Times AND the BBC report ( regarding which side of the border the soldiers were on when they were captured) there is no question in my mind who/what I would believe. This is not to mention Haaretz reporters who are highly critical of Israel.

    Also it makes NO sense that Israel would start a war based on a kidnapping that occured when it’s own soldiers were across the border when part of the ratioanle for that war was that israel was invaded by an armed group from another sovereign country. All reliable sources that I have read say Hezbollah captured the soldiers by crossing the border.

    Though I take your point that did not refer to this incident in particular, Allison was. Allison picked a flimsy erroneous report ( probably not purposely) and went with it.

    There is a difference between erroneous reports, reports in the fog of war and outright propaganda as well.

    The best you can do is scrutinize and cultivate several sources you can trust and keep on a story because the truth emerges.

    I like the quotes you put around “neutral”. Few people are truly neutral, even if relatively uninvolved, I find. People at least should be aware of their own biases and naivete.

    Thanks to Nick for the On the Media link/report.

  • Alex Brown

    The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil

    by Michel Chossudovsky

    GlobalResearch

    Wednesday July 26, 2006 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CHO20060726&articleId=2824

    [The rest of this comment was deleted. Please don’t put copyrighted material in this thread, people. Leave a link; anyone who wants to read it can click through. Sincerely, The Management]

  • Potter,

    I did not include the Asia News link as proof, only to indicate that different arguments and are floating all around and it is difficult to know about what is going on until the fact, after some time and an independent investigation, emerge. That was the case with Qana 1, from what I have read.

    In the case of the kidnappings, no less a critic of Israeli military actions than Robert Fisk reports it as Hezbollah crossing the border, so I take that as fact.

    I agree, no one is completely neutral or objective and it is easier to try and see vairous perspectives from a quieter and safer distance.

  • “I must say that it’s really frustrating when people like Allison post links to articles they don’t bother to undersatand.”

    Umm, the reason I posted was to gain understanding. I don’t for one second purport to understand anything that happens in the Middle East. I think I’ve made that clear. But I do deserve the right to ask questions and I did read what I read in an AP report which I thought was a reputable source. Still, I didn’t assume it to be true. I asked if anybody else had information. And I wondered out loud about the implications.

    This is why I generally don’t engage these conversations at all and why I remain unable to have an opinion about the parties in the conflict. Ask a question, get attacked.

    Potter, you said that it didn’t make sense for the Israelis to launch this war over two soldiers if they were captured in Lebanese territory. But mightn’t it, if they were simply looking for an excuse? (i don’t know enough to make any argument one way or the other, but the sheer disproportion of the response triggers something in my gut that tells me there’s more to this.)

    Knowing one’s bias is important. Mine is definitely for non-violent resistance and peaceful co-existence. I understand the need to defend oneself. But I don’t see how obliterating Beirut is helping the defense of Israel. Like the US in Iraq, I think it only adds to the list of people who consider themselves your enemy.

  • scribe5

    “I hardly think all Jews would blindly accept the words of the authorities, (even with all the ideological conditioning any member of a socio-cultural receives), but obviously some in this thread are affraid to question the repeated shouts and murmurs, and those that do, Jew or otherwise, are attacked by the keepers of the faith.”

    Ideological conditioning? What ideological conditioning?

    What is your ideological conditioning. If you start looking for bias don’t exempt yourself sidewalker.

  • jdyer

    Alex Brown I am so glad you wrote such a long and nonsensical screed about oil.

    It seems that to some political fundamentalists OIL has replaced FILTHY LUCRE as the root of all evil, or at least all wars.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • jdyer

    allison Says:

    “Umm, the reason I posted was to gain understanding. I don’t for one second purport to understand anything that happens in the Middle East. I think I’ve made that clear.”

    Did you ever think of reading some books on the history of the area? I can recommend some scholarly book. The there is of course your local library where you can do some research.

    “But I do deserve the right to ask questions and I did read what I read in an AP report which I thought was a reputable source.”

    You have the right to show off your ignorance, certainly and people have the right to point it out. AP is reputable which means that they will not knowingly print lies. However, the key word is “knowingly.” I don’t think they always know what they leave out and how much of their otherwise intelligent audience doesn’t know the background needed to fully understand what they write.

    When I read stories, say about China or Brazil areas of the world I am not knowledgeable about the newswire stories too often don’t make much sense to me. I have an intuitive feeling that they leave out a lot of needed information to save space.

    “Still, I didn’t assume it to be true. I asked if anybody else had information. And I wondered out loud about the implications.”

    Well, I am glad you did.

  • jdyer

    Someone up thread used the phrase “true believers.” I wonder if they know the origin of the phrase.

    Usually people apply it to people whose belief they abhor. They need to be reminded that strictly speaking a “true believer” is any one who believes in something very strongly without; believes emotionally rather than rationally. This is true of people who belong to political or religious cults such as fascists, communists, or extreme religious cults. This is what Eric Hoffer who wrote a book by that title in the 1960’s had in mind.

    However, a true believer can also apply to someone who believes in something otherwise praiseworthy such as Gandhi. It could even apply to people who are otherwise rational and even geniuses such as Bertrand Russell, or Noam Chomsky who when they write about issues they are no more competent to pass judgment on than you or me. Needless to say people who follow these people are also true believers.

    I wonder if the phrase hasn’t lost all meaning today given that its being used merely as a form of insult?

    The same is probably true of terms such as “right” or “left” since they seem to denote merely someone who holds a position that the speaker hates.

    I for one have been called a leftist by people who hate the left and a right winger by people who hate see themselves on the left.

    I believe it would be useful to have a program about the use of terms such as “TRUE BELIEVER, LEFTIST, RIGHTIST, ETC.”

    What do you think, Brendon?

  • huck finn

    Potter & jdyer

    I agree that it is important to develop an eye for reliable sources, but civilians actually have little basis for judgment. Rather as one’s world view evolves, certain things either run counter to that view, reinforce that view, or modify that view.

    My world view is informed by living through the Kennedy Assassination, the Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran Contra, October Surprise, Savings and Loan, Persian Gulf, 9/11, etc. etc. None of these things were what they appeared to be and because many of the players are still with us, the full “truth� will probably never be known. However, the results speak for themselves.

    My world view tells me that Alex Brown’s explanation makes far more sense than the red herring of 2 soldier’s capture. The “truth� probably has kernels of both in some way.

    Just for fun, I watched particular statements by John Bolton morph from attribution by him to “administration official explains� to “government official says� to unattributed statements of fact, (ABC, WSJ, NYT, AP) rather than highly dubious opinion. The neocons want him as their next Secretary of State, but does that make his musings reality? Respected members of the MSM, through laziness, habit, or deliberation, seem to think so. I don’t. And I accept no reports unconditionally, even from “trusted� sources.

    Because the US has given millions to Hezbollah and billions to Israel, we need to be cautious about swallowing the bait of easy explanations. There are far too many political, ideological, and economic factions involved for there to be only two sides to the story. I respectfully ask you, and others on this thread, to discuss the stakes – who has what to gain – instead of just trying to decide who is wearing the white hat. We’ll all learn from that. Maybe then our contributioins will have actual impact.

  • jdyer

    Conspiracy theories are not my cup of tea, hf.

    “Because the US has given millions to Hezbollah and billions to Israel, we need to be cautious about swallowing the bait of easy explanations.”

    Where is your evidence that the US has given “millions to Hezbollah?”

    Israel, yes. Israel is an ally and that to explains the aid we give to that country.

    Your second point, though, doesn’t follow from your first premise which is only partially true anyway.

  • jdyer: “You have the right to show off your ignorance, certainly and people have the right to point it out.”

    And you have the right to show off your meanness. Which will, of course, make you right because those who don’t feel that they need to subjec themselves to such tactics will simply not bother to engage the conversation any longer.

  • Old Nick

    “And you have the right to show off your meanness. Which will, of course, make you right because those who don’t feel that they need to subjec themselves to such tactics will simply not bother to engage the conversation any longer.”

    Well said! Bravo Allison!

    “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

    —a zillion folksy grandmas (of many ethnicities)

  • Potter

    Allison: Potter, you said that it didn’t make sense for the Israelis to launch this war over two soldiers if they were captured in Lebanese territory. But mightn’t it, if they were simply looking for an excuse? (i don’t know enough to make any argument one way or the other, but the sheer disproportion of the response triggers something in my gut that tells me there’s more to this.)

    The plan to root out Hezbollah from south Lebanon was ready but Israel did not act upon it. People in northern Israel knew of the build-up of arms and rockets pointed at them. But that plan was not put into action until there was a cause: this recent provocation across the border, the killing and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. A big deal was made about the fact that the international border was crossed. Since Hezbollah was acting with the okay of the government of Lebanon, Israel could assume that Lebanon was attacking. Israel had to respond. Most everyone I heard agreed at the beginning of this that Israel had a right and a responsibility to defend itself, it’s citizen’s.

    The possible and probable reasons why Hezbollah and it’s benefactors Syria, Iran would have wanted this confrontation at this time has been discussed but if you have not caught it, that also should be a question you have. I do not think they expected this level of response from Israel.

    The barrage of missiles coming from Lebanon to Israel shows the extent of their build-up within ( and thus the endangerment of) the Lebanese civilian population as well as Israeli’s. This is Hezbollah’s deterrent. It says: come after us and you will kill innocent civilians.

    As Ari Shavit was saying last night, it was/is not wise for Israel to deal with the problem in this manner. This is what many others have been saying from the beginning. I thought, one strong blow should have sufficed and then threats for more and dialogue. (Hezbollah’s Nasrallah said in effect ‘bring it on’) The Israeli PM said they will not stop until there is another robust force to keep peace in a buffer zone in Southern Lebanon. In the meantime, Israeli’s are cleaning out the area as best they can and taking the criticism for all the damage.

    Why would Israel, already embroiled in the flare-up in Gaza want a second front? Why would Syria and Iran and Hezbollah have wanted this? Who is responsible for the safety and well-being of the Lebanese people?

    The disproportion in the response I think has more to do with the strategy of always hitting back harder for deterrence. Israeli’s also say that they are trying to be as careful as they can. Obviously there are way too many “mistakes�. It’s a losing battle to root out irregulars from innocents in villages etc. Perhaps the idea was that the Lebanese would blame Hezbollah. The more pain you inflict, the less likely it will be that you will be attacked, or so the theory goes. In this case, Hezbollah was apparently okay about sacrificing the Lebanese people ( their leaders say the people should be willing to die for their cause). As Israel gets the blame, and they continue to fire away and hide, they win.

    Sidewalker: Sorry for the misunderstanding…

    (Listen to Terri Gross interviewing Tom Friedman today on Fresh Air btw)

  • Potter, I have also wondered why Hezbollah would do this at this time. They’ve stated that they took the soldiers as a bargaining chip for getting their own people back. But if they went into Israel to get them, they had to have know the Israeli ethos about hitting back hard. Perhaps they thought that Israel was more vulnerable because of the activity with Palestine.

    I’m not sure how I assess the threat of the arms that Hezbollah has. Either they are not very effective, or the Hezbollah don’t know how to use them effectively. The damage done to Lebanon has far outweighed the damage to Israel at this point, hasn’t it? For all those thousands of rockets being lobbed at Israel, I’m surprised. Perhaps I’m not hearing about the extent of the damage.

    But we do know that Israel has some pretty good weaponry. Supplied by the good ole USofA. They certainly aren’t in the underdog position.

    Of course, I do get the concern that Hezbollah’s goal is the extermination of Israel. I’m wondering, again, if I missed something. Has Israel, the US or the UN or anyone with influence been pressuring/supporting Lebanon to get Hezbollah out of Lebanon?

    I do worry that for our current administration, all of this just serves that apocolyptic goal they seem to have.

  • Old Nick

    1. Ari Shavit never got to finish a couple of important points last night. Despite Chris’s incredulity, Islamist Iran and its Islamist proxies DO – by scriptural definition – represent an existential threat to Israel. Our stumbling block to understanding this is the American conventional wisdom that analyzes EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD through a lens ground to perceive only economic and ‘social justice’ factors.

    This analysis simply doesn’t apply to Islamists, who are completely up front about their motivations: not their economy (whose Western obsessions bring sin in any event), while ‘social justice’ is defined entirely through their own religious lens – i.e., Muslims are good; infidels evil.

    They make it entirely plain that jihad is their motivation.

    They are not Americans. They are not Westerners.

    They are Islamists.

    When we label them as ‘terrorists’, we are applying a mis-focused Western lens. They are not ‘terrorists’ but jihadis. They are not ‘evil’ but simply and authentically faithful.

    The longer we fail to understand this, the deeper the hole we dig for our hopes of offering effective conceptual resistance. Which, frankly, is our ONLY hope.

    I wish Ari Shavit had had a chance to pursue several of his many thoughtful expository openings, including that of Iranian nuclear ambitions. Islamism is poised to become every bit the ‘Churchillian enemy’ of Israel that Nazism became for Europe’s Jews. Pretending otherwise is counterproductive.

    Shavit said, ‘This is the beginning of the future’, and that too deserved a longer exposition.

    2. From Potter: “The more pain you inflict, the less likely it will be that you will be attacked, or so the theory goes. In this case, Hezbollah was apparently okay about sacrificing the Lebanese people ( their leaders say the people should be willing to die for their cause). As Israel gets the blame, and they continue to fire away and hide, they win.�

    This is jihad in action. ‘The more pain’ the Israelis inflict, the more opportunity provided to the faithful for martyrdom.

    These people are not Americans. They are not Westerners.

    They are jihadis.

    Their sacrificed go to Paradise: “If the future dwelling place with God be specially for you but not for the rest of mankind, then wish for death, if you are sincere…â€?

    http://www.infoplease.com/t/rel/koran/sura2.html

    There is no substitute for confronting the scripture. And if you’re interested in the Middle East, but can’t be bothered to read that region’s single most influential book, you’re wasting your time and that of the rest of us too. I’d love NOT to be the only blogger on these pages quoting from the Koran and hadith.

    The link above seems to offer the whole of the Koran — give it a spin before Wednesday’s show.

  • Old Nick

    OOPS!

    Potter, the closing paragraph of my post above wasn’t directed at you, but at all us Westerners trying to comprehend this chamber of horrors in the Middle East without first trying to understand the minds of the combatants. (You’ve plenty of empathy and curiosity already.)

    The Koran informs and molds the minds of the Islamists. Understanding it is vital — and easily done by reading the thing.

  • Potter

    Allison- I don’t have time for a long one- but you are right to question whether israel should have handled this in another way. The rockets I believe were meant to be a deterrent, though they are in violation of Un Res 1559. The use of them caused not only deaths, but it terrorized the whole north of israel. One million Israeli’s were either hiding or fleeing the area. The excuse for firing them however was Israel’s assault. The provocation has had some good explanations- Iran wanted to divert attention, Syria needed a card to play, Hez wants more power. They all want more power. On the Israeli side, Olmert and Peretz are inexperienced.

  • huck finn

    jdyer- You are such a pill! Like a Grand Inquisitor, you trot out the standard gambits for discrediting those with whom you disagree – anti-Semite, bigot, fantasy, nonsensical screed, even conspiracy theory.

    This had been confirmed by former Israeli intelligence officers, among others. It is a matter of public record that Hezbollah received millions right off the top of the many millions the United States funneled toward Iran in an international criminal enterprise in which many of the participants were indicted, convicted, and sentenced. Many were reassigned, disgraced, retired, or “eliminated”. Iran Contra is not a theory. The is not the only example of these “allies” funding their “enemies”.

    Without getting long-winded about it, the popular media is currently akin to a snake eating its own tail. The student of history and current events needs to have refined skills in pattern recognition and communication theory.

    False flag operations such as the Boston Massacre, the Mexican American War, the sinking of the Maine, the sinking of the Lusitania, Tonkin Gulf, are specific instances of public opinion being manipulated by those encouraging the outbreak of war for reasons not apparent to those being manipulated.

  • Potter

    This article from The Guardian has been linked elsewhere and on this site but it should be read:

    Hizballah men await the Israeli’s

  • Old Nick

    Thanks Potter for the linked article. These sentences are as telling as they are chilling:

    “‘Every one of those fighters is a true believer, he has been not only trained to use guns and weapons but [indoctrinated] in the Shia faith and the Husseini beliefs,’ Ali says.

    “For Ali and his comrades, the latest conflict is a war of survival not only for Hizbullah but for the whole Shia community. It is not only as a war with Israel, their enemy for decades, but also with the Sunni community. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have all expressed fears of Iranian domination over the Middle East.

    “‘If Israel comes out victorious from this conflict, this will be a victory for the Sunnis and they will take the Shia community back in history dozens of years to the time when we were only allowed to work as garbage collectors in this country. The Shia will all die before letting this happen again.’�

    Iran’s ‘interests’ lie exposed here: first fight to win back the Islamic land (Israel) lost to infidels, then, after the region is ‘cleansed’, settle the older score: recapture the Sunnis and make them Shi’a. Just as the popes intended to do to the Protestants in Europe’s atrocious Thirty Years War.

    That’s ‘faith’ for you. Must we continue to turn our blind-eyes to this?

  • nabobnico

    This is Nico.

    Interesting take from an american living in Ramallah; might be worth putting on a show.

    Rachel, you probably shouldn’t bother with it. It’ll just upset you and you’ll call us all liars.

    http://eteraz.wordpress.com/2006/07/31/letter-from-american-in-ramallah/

  • nabobnico

    I read the article in The Gaurdian as well. I found it chilling, but I also realize what the Israeli generals must be realizing; that this will be a long, bloody war witholut a clear winner. Have the Israelis achieved peace through any of their wars, or through any of their occupations? No, and the result will probably be the same here. When the missiles run out, the fighters will melt back into the population as they did in 2000, until they rearm. Only through a fundamental rethinking of Israels foreign and domestic policy; a la a complete disengagement from the Palestinians will any form of peace be achieved. Several times on this site, the withdrawal of the Strip has been cited as an example of the Israelis benificence; they never totally withdrew, controlling as they did the border entries with Egypt, not allowing the MoP’s freedom of movement, and denying the recognition to a freely elected government in an uncontested election.

    The Israelis funded Hamas to begin with, and now the election has played into their hands directly. In this sense (and they may have blown it with their wanton destruction of the other freely elected democracy to their north) they can say, and the west will believe it, that they gave peace a chance, that they allowed Gaza a chance, and the “evil” palestinians failed. Now they will claim the right to more unitlateral actions, like anexation of parts of the WB. And we will be expected to accept it. They set up the Strip to fail, so they could continue with impunity their brutal ocupation.

  • jdyer

    huck finn Says:

    August 1st, 2006 at 6:40 pm

    “jdyer- You are such a pill! Like a Grand Inquisitor, you trot out the standard gambits for discrediting those with whom you disagree”

    all this because I said that I didn’t believe in conspiracy theries.

    ” – anti-Semite, bigot, fantasy, nonsensical screed, even conspiracy theory.”

    Show me where I ever talked about conspiracy theories.

    Antisemitism as you should know is not a conspiracy theory.

    “This had been confirmed by former Israeli intelligence officers, among others. It is a matter of public record that Hezbollah received millions right off the top of the many millions the United States funneled toward Iran in an international criminal enterprise in which many of the participants were indicted, convicted, and sentenced.”

    Give me a break iran-contra was a 1980’s operation which was revealed soon after it was hatched. Some conspiracy. I doubt that US government could eve come up with a conspiracy in which someone would fail to blabber about it to the press.

    Still I like to see the proof that any of the money was given to Hizbollah by the US government.

  • jdyer

    nabobnico:

    ” Have the Israelis achieved peace through any of their wars, or through any of their occupations? No, and the result will probably be the same here.”

    Predictions are all too easy.

    As for achieving peace, that would be a nice bonus. Short of that they will have keep on defending themselves as best they can. There was no peace before 1948 either and the Jews were a lot worse off before the Jewish State achieved its independence. At least now they can fight back.

    But predictions are easy and I do think that many more Arabs are ready for peace today than they were say in 1948, 1967, 1973, or even 2000. This is because they have achieved a level of prosperity which needs peace to sustain it.

    This is what both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbollah in Iran and in Lebanon are afraid. In Lebanon a Hizbollah official said that he wanted to exchange tourism for martydom.

    But predictions are cheap and in the Mid East its best to take one day at a time.

  • huck finn

    jdyer-

    -> ->Give me a break iran-contra was a 1980’s operation which was revealed soon after it was hatched. Some conspiracy.

    The Iran Contra conspiracy ran from 1979 through 1988.

    -> ->I doubt that US government could eve come up with a conspiracy in which someone would fail to blabber about it to the press.

    The Manhattan Project involved over 10,000 people and received no publicity.

    -> ->Still I like to see the proof that any of the money was given to Hizbollah by the US government.

    Hezbollah took their cut right off the top for the ransom of their prisoners. (The US will not bargain with terrorists, eh?) In addition, Israel netted well over $1.8 Billion, Yitzhak Shamir received $160 Million “donation” …

    Israel’s involvement (paraphrasing Ari Ben-Menashe from his book “Profits of War, Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Network”) 1) got the Arabs off Israel’s back, 2) parted the Arabs from their money, 3) kept the Iranians contained & parted them from their money, 4) kept the oil flowing, 5) made sure the world recycled its old military equipment, 6) kept the Soviets happy, 7) made a lot of arms dealers and defense contractors rich.

    Now that’s some conspiracy!

  • Old Nick

    I’m working on a ‘What We Learned’ from this thread’s hour of ROS, but I’ve got to jump the gun to offer up this:

    Gadi Taub (@ 45:50) said, “…the original dream of Zionism: to make the life of Jews normal.�

    I find it IMPOSSIBLE not to sympathize with this. This, frankly, was the best gem in a jewel of a show.

    The problem of course, has been the implementation of that dream. It has cost far too many innocents, of both Jewish and Arab lives.

    And as I consider the history of Zionist Israel, I rue all the more the religious conceit that ‘God’ (unverifiable and therefore no more plausible an entity than Santa Claus) ‘granted the land to His Chosen’.

    Zionism has many humanistic legitimacies, but that last can’t be one of them. The arrogant and selfish actions that have stemmed from that gross conceit might, paradoxically, be what ultimately dooms the Jews to yet another tragic diaspora. I desperately don’t want to see it eventuate, but the Islamists have learned to fight (religious) fire with (religious) fire of their own. All the more tragic then that religion is both inherently irrational and empirically foundationless.

    And then, immediately thereafter, Gadi Taub gave us this: “The antidote to fanaticism is not counter-fanaticism…�

    (Did you hear that, jdyer?)

    Which is another way of saying that over-subscription to beliefs (be they religious or secular) only helps further the advance of irrationality, not the advance of reason and the self-reflection that reason requires.

    Self-reflection is another memetic process to seriously ponder. It seems to me (perhaps wrongly) from reading the links posted in threads like this, that the Israelis are currently far more capable of it than their foes.

  • Potter

    Old Nick, I would say that a minority in Israel are saying that they have a right to be there because God granted the land to his chosen. Modern Israel’s pioneers were secular and even today there is a hefty secular majority population. The very religious do have this belief they the land is theirs based on the Bible. But they are a single digit minority last time I checked.

    This is a total misunderstanding of what “chosen” people means anyway. This “chosen people” business/misunderstanding has caused so much negative feeling directed back at Jews by others. See at wikipedia for in depth discussion.

    I think you have to be careful in your anti-religiousity not to see everything in those terms though.

    It is true however that a part of the settler movement, again a religious minority, do believe that the land was given to them by God. When the time comes, and there is a peace agreement, these people will have to leave, like those settlers in Gaza left kicking and screaming,( many claiming Gaza was theirs based on the Bible) ( One of them is my first cousin btw who left more peacefully) They then rationaized properly that they had to leave for the greater good and did not take up arms.

    I wish I knew the antidote to fanaticism. isn’t it born of a reaction to persecution and humiliation over time?

  • Potter

    woops I blew that link to :

    Jews as a chosen people

  • Potter

    nabobnico It is my understanding that Egypt and the Euros are overseeing the Gaza border with Egypt contrary to what you say above. Check your facts.

    Note: The Gaza Strip has been flooding with weapons ever since Israel, it’s settlers and it’s army left. Israel had the right and the responsibility to guard it’s borders and to patrol the air and sea for those weapons/infiltration by suiciders. Israel had no obligation to recognize or support a government run by an unreformed terrorist organization that refused to give up/ control it’s militarism/militants aiming at Israel.

    This Hamas government refused to recognize Israel or to abide by prior agreements yet you complain that Israel refused to recognize Hamas. Fair? No!

    Then you use that old club, Israel funded Hamas way back when. (That explains everything. And so by extension the anti-Semitism of the western world created Israel).

    Israel and the West could have handled Gaza differently before it blew up but Gazans could have taken a different path as well. They were headed for civil war remember? Hamas has a split, the more military part of which is being run from Syria/Iran. They wanted all this violence to prevent an agreement that was maturing.

    And, Israel was not, to my knowledge planning to annex any land.

  • Old Nick

    Thank you Potter. I was referring specifically to that very minority (whatever its percentile quantification), whose interests held sway for many years via Likkud, who gave us euphemisms like ‘The Arabs of Judea and Samaria’ instead of ‘Palestinians’. And who (like Netanyahu) gave the world the response that Jordan was the Palestinian homeland!

    It may be true that they are only a small minority (I wouldn’t know), but the damage they have done to the dream of Zionism is NOT small.

    I remember the international debates over Israel of the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s – and so do Palestinians.

    That’s the problem. Islamists will never forgive Zionist excesses. Islamism is the non-forgiving and very, very judgmental expression of the Koran and hadith. The Allah of any literal reading of the Koran is stringently demanding and absolutely judgmental (surely a projection of some facet of his creator Mohamed).

    How Israel (or we) make peace with that is beyond me.

  • Potter

    Nick-

    Zionist extremism, which wants land and transfer of Arabs matches Islamic extremism, which wants to eliminate Israel. The former movement is tiny compared to the latter.

    This does not represent mainstream Zionism anymore than Islam is represented by extremists.

    Vocal minorities are on both sides of the conflict. Excesses to remember on both sides. At the moment the Jewish/zionist vocal minority is in check and out of influence though they sit on land they will have to leave. Conversely, the extremist minority seems to be gaining on the other side and we can blame Israel, but not entirely. As you say this Islamist non-forgiving, non-accepting stance leads to provocations and war in the name of survival.

    The plan to leave the West Bank has suffered a setback based not on religious issues, but straightforward security issues: the fear of moving the border line from which rockets and suicides can be launched further west.

    You can only make peace with willing parties on both sides.

    Cultivate/follow/support/ help elect moderates/liberals and deal with them. Moderates have to gain enough support and power to check the forces that are extreme and that bring war.

  • OldNick: The Koran informs and molds the minds of the Islamists. Understanding it is vital — and easily done by reading the thing.

    I think that’s an oversimplification. I’ve studied under Sufi guides who were muslim (you can be any faith to be Sufi) and one thing that was made clear to me is that the interpretations of the Koran are myriad. Unless you can read it in Arabic, you can have no understanding of how differently that language works and how easy it is to misinterpret. There is no way that an English translation can convey the message of the original writings. So, at the very least, the version you are reading is someone’s biased translation.

    Plus, if it was able to make things so clear, there wouldn’t be such vast differences within the muslim community.

    I would say this is true of the Christian Bible, as well. The canon that became the Bible are all originally written in different languages and the versions we read today have been filtered by the translators’ perspectives.

    And then there is the individual interpretation of the same version. Language is so imperfect and open to subjective interpretation that you can’t rely on them to give you insight into someone else’s belief systems and mindsets. You have to hear their take on what is written. (Which is often fragmented, since people latch on to the bits that serve their desired framework.)

  • jdyer

    huck finn Says:

    August 2nd, 2006 at 12:45 am

    “Israel’s involvement (paraphrasing Ari Ben-Menashe from his book “Profits of War, Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Networkâ€?)”

    From wikipedia:

    “Ben-Menashe came to the attention of the international media in 2002, when he alleged that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had asked him to help to “eliminate” President Robert Mugabe. Ben-Menashe produced a videotape of conversations between himself and Tsvangirai in London, England, and Montreal, where the latter appeared to ask for Ben-Menashe’s help as a political consultant. Unbeknownst to Tsvangirai, Ben-Menashe’s Montreal consultancy firm at the time, Dickens and Madson, was working for Mugabe, and tapes of the ambiguous conversation were passed to the Zimbabwean authorities, who charged Tsvangirai with treason, which is punishable by death in that country.

    Tsvangarai was acquitted in 2003 when a court in Harare accepted he had not used the word “eliminate” to mean that he wanted Mugabe to be assassinated. Judge Paddington Garwe described Ben-Menashe, who was the prosecution’s star witness, as “rude, unreliable, and contemptuous.”

    The Jerusalem Post, quoting an “authoritative” source, wrote on March 27, 1990 that Ben-Menashe had not worked for the Israeli government in any capacity, and that the Israeli defense establishment had had “no contact” with him. Documents subsequently obtained by American journalists showed that Ben-Menashe had, in fact, worked for the External Relations Department of Israeli military intelligence from 1977-87, though his critics say he was a low-level translator. [1] Documents obtained in 2002 by Canadian journalists under Canada’s freedom of information legislation indicate that Ben-Menashe has supplied consultancy services to the Canadian government. Time Magazine has called him a “spinner of tangled yarns.”

    Now there is a reliable source.

  • jdyer

    “The problem of course, has been the implementation of that dream. It has cost far too many innocents, of both Jewish and Arab lives.”

    Old Nick to the rescue!

    I don’t know what the word innocent means in the sentence above, but I am sure that most Jews in Israel and elsewhere would agree that given the alternative, exile, massacres, expulsions, pogroms, ghettos, and holocaust the cost hasn’t been too high.

    As for Arabs they are the ones perpetrating the violence and even without the Jewish state Jews in Arab lands did not live a normal life and were under constant threat of violence.

  • jdyer

    “And then, immediately thereafter, Gadi Taub gave us this: “The antidote to fanaticism is not counter-fanaticism…â€?”

    How is wanting to live a normal life and defending that right “counter fanaticism?”

    You are not making sense Old Nick.

    I’d like to see what you would do if the Greeks were expelled from Greece and not allowed to live normal lives anywhere else?

  • jdyer

    The settler movement on the West bank was and is unrealistic. It has also perpetrated violence against both Arabs and Jews. They are however not in the majority in Israel and the government has said that it will abandon many of the settlements.

    Bringing them up now is a red herring since they have nothing to do with the war against Hizbollah.

  • “As for Arabs they are the ones perpetrating the violence and even without the Jewish state Jews in Arab lands did not live a normal life and were under constant threat of violence.”

    Check your history. Jews lived safely and propered under Muslim rule historically. It was Christians that came along and brought intolerance with them. But I’m talking older history.

    In recent history, it seems that Muslim fears and intolerance were generated by the original Zionist movement in the early 1920s. After having been nearly extinguished by the Europeans, there was this concerted effort by Zionists to claim the promised land for themselves. Only problem: someone else was living there and this need for safety threatened Muslim communities who themselves were reeling from the impacts of European imperialism in the area. While modern Israelites are not primarily these fanatic Zionists, fears on both sides have run rampant and created extreme intolerance. The US and the Europeans have managed to create a cauldron of hatred in the sands of the Middle East. Since they can’t reach us, they lash out at each other. Some day, they just might realize – Jew and Muslim – that we’re the ones who have caused them the most grief. They’ll band together and turn the nuclear power of Israel and Iran against us. And we would deserve it.

    It would be akin to all the Casino-owning native Americans buying back all the land we took and forcnig us to live on ‘reservations’.

    The reason we can’t broker peace, is because our presence in the Mid-East has been the antithesis of peace. We don’t go around the world seeking peace. We go around seeking financial benefit for us. We don’t care what kind of destruction we do to others along the way.

  • jdyer

    “There is no way that an English translation can convey the message of the original writings. So, at the very least, the version you are reading is someone’s biased translation.”

    Biased translation? What is that? The translation of the Koran I read was penned by a Muslim and it says the seme thing. Besides there are some scholarly translations on line which anyone can read.

    Try this one:

    http://www.hti.umich.edu/k/koran/

    or this one:

    http://etext.virginia.edu/koran.html

    Now you tell me how biased they are?

    I think you are confusing the notion of accuracy with biased.

    Any translation especially that of poetry leaves out a lot: play on words, connotations, etc.

    This is not the same as bias. However, there is a rock bottom literal meaning that does come across.

    AS for sufis some are more tolerant than others. I have read sufis who adhere to the notion that everyone must “revert” to Islam as it is the only legitimate religion.

  • jdyer

    Allison:

    “Check your history. Jews lived safely and propered under Muslim rule historically. It was Christians that came along and brought intolerance with them. But I’m talking older history.”

    Check your history, Allison.

    The yellow star as a badge of dishonor was first introduced in Muslim countries where Jews held to be dhimmis (protected or second class people).

    It was later introduced into Christian Europe.

    Both Islam and Christianity have had trouble with minority religions and especially with Jews. They dealt with it differently. In Christianity Jews were both hated as well as allowed to function in certain areas of life.

    In Muslim countries Jews were restricted and often also subjected to daily violence.

    Here is a charitable view:

    History of the Jews in Muslim lands

    “Excluding the region of Palestine, and omitting the accounts of Joseph and Moses as unverifiable, Jews have lived in what are now Arab states at least since the Babylonian Captivity (597 BCE), about 2,600 years ago.

    After the expansion of Arab Muslims into these lands, Jews, along with Christians and Zoroastrians, typically had the legal status of dhimmi. As such, they were entitled to limited rights, tolerance, and protection, on the condition they pay a special poll tax (the “jizya”), which exempted them from military service, and also from payment of the Zakat alms tax required of Muslims. As dhimmi, Jews were typically subjected to several restrictions, the application and severity of which varied by time and place: residency in segregated quarters, obligation to wear distinctive clothing, public subservience to Muslims, prohibitions against proselytizing and marrying Muslim women, and limited access to the legal systems. They sometimes attained high positions in government, notably as viziers and physicians. Jewish communities, like Christian ones, were typically constituted as semi-autonomous entities managed by their own laws and leadership, who carried the responsibility for the community towards the Muslim rulers. The treatment of Jews in Muslim lands was generally (though not always) better than that in Europe. As a result, many Jews sought refuge in the Middle East and North Africa from persecution in Europe.”

    http://www.answers.com/topic/history-of-the-jews-in-muslim-lands

    One way of judging the position of Jews in Muslim countries is by looking at the demographics. When for example the Muslims conquered Egypt the number of Jews was much greater than the number at the turn of the 20th century.

    In a thousand years the number should have been much, much higher.

    In Poland by comparison in spite of programs the numbers grew exponentially till the 20th century when the Holocaust was perpetrated.

    Jews did not prosper in Muslim lands. At best they were tolerated and held in contempt. They started to prosper there only after the European powers conquered the lands and helped to local non Muslim peoples to live more dignifies lives.

  • jdyer

    Allison:

    “In recent history, it seems that Muslim fears and intolerance were generated by the original Zionist movement in the early 1920s. After having been nearly extinguished by the Europeans, there was this concerted effort by Zionists to claim the promised land for themselves.”

    You are repeating Islamicist antisemitic propaganda.

  • scribe5

    jdyer: Jews did not prosper in Muslim lands. At best they were tolerated and held in contempt.

    The idea that Jewish people prospered in Arab countries was ivented by 19th century liberal historians who were trying to show shame Christian Europe into being more tolerant.

  • Old Nick

    Potter (and Allison too): I find much to agree with in Potter’s 10:55 AM August 2nd, but food for further dialogue too:

    “Zionist extremism, which wants land and transfer of Arabs matches Islamic extremism, which wants to eliminate Israel. The former movement is tiny compared to the latter.�

    Most certainly; but the difference between the two isn’t simply a matter of population differences. And it isn’t a simple matter of ‘social injustice’, as I’ve tried again and again to illustrate by pointing out the relative affluence of many (and, in many cases, most) Islamists.

    “This does not represent mainstream Zionism anymore than Islam is represented by extremists.�

    I hope tonight’s show-guests shed some relevant light on this—and I hope it’s more than merely another layer of whitewash, in service of the taboo against criticizing religion. (I’m leery, however.)

    “Vocal minorities are on both sides of the conflict. Excesses to remember on both sides. At the moment the Jewish/Zionist vocal minority is in check and out of influence though they sit on land they will have to leave. Conversely, the extremist minority seems to be gaining on the other side and we can blame Israel, but not entirely. As you say this Islamist non-forgiving, non-accepting stance leads to provocations and war in the name of survival.�

    I mostly agree with this, but for the final phrase. It certainly applies to the Palestinians (from their POV), but not at all to Iran and the Wahabbist Saudis, who fund Hamas. They’re hardly fighting for ‘survival’—they’re funding jihad.

    So long as we continue to apply the Western ‘freedom-fighter’ lens to jihad, we can’t begin view the situation accurately and then devise an alternative set of concepts to address the situation. Iranian ayatollahs and Saudi Wahabis are NOT WESTERNERS.

    They are Islamists. They are radicalizing the pliable minds of the peoples in their sphere of influence not from pure and simple machiavellian impulses, but from their conceptual lens ground from the Koran. They translate the situation to their recruits by framing it in phrases and passages from a literal reading of the Koran and hadith – not an ‘interpretive’ reading.

    Look, I’ve got a Koran whose translator was considerably more generous to it than many online translations. But, as they say in the NBA: “It is what it is.� No translation can completely obscure or disguise the scriptural exhortations to intolerance, spiritual superiority, violence, and religious imperialism.

    It is what it is.

    I find it particularly telling that Sam Harris received not only the predictable death threats for his analysis of Islam in The End of Faith, but many emails from Muslims who agreed with his analysis.

    We want to call this a ‘war of ideologies’. We think we’re in conflict with some sort of Middle East version of the last century’s fight against totalitarianism. This is true to a degree: Islamism is indeed totalitarian, and it has as its goal a totalitarian ‘end of history’, wherein the world submits to the Islamic God represented (invented) by Mohamed, and then lives out the Islamist dream of ‘peace’ (wherein female human life is qualitatively but a quarter of male human life).

    But when we consign the jihadis to the conceptual black hole of ‘terrorists’, we obscure for ourselves their goals and the scripturally-defined ‘morality’ they apply to the unconscionably bloody means they employ to obtain their goals.

    The only way to battle this with minimal further bloodshed is conceptually: by offering alterative memes to counter the increasingly popular (and virulent) Islamist meme-complex—and yet we’re failing from the get-go by neglecting to comprehend the basic truth of the Islamist impulse.

    It’s religious, not ‘ideological’ (as we typically define the word).

    Islamist ‘ideology’ flows directly from literal readings of the Koran and hadith.

    It’s long past time to recognize that.

    It is what it is.

    “The plan to leave the West Bank has suffered a setback based not on religious issues, but straightforward security issues: the fear of moving the border line from which rockets and suicides can be launched further west.�

    Right. (I’m sorry for giving the impression I didn’t know this.)

    “You can only make peace with willing parties on both sides.�

    Right again.

    “Cultivate/follow/support/ help elect moderates/liberals and deal with them. Moderates have to gain enough support and power to check the forces that are extreme and that bring war.�

    If you can figure out how to promote this within the increasingly literalist Islam of this ‘beginning of the future’ (thank you Ari Shavit), you’ve got a sure fire job at the UN, as special assistant to the Secretary General.

    And you’ll doubtlessly earn a full decade’s worth of Nobel Peace Prizes.

    It will take entirely new memes and meme-complexes than the 20th century memetic set we’re stuck with now.

    And it wouldn’t hurt any if ‘moderate’ Islamic clerics developed the nerve to systematically confront, excoriate, and disown their literalist co-religionists.

    I won’t hold my breath however. No one wants to be a heretic – especially when it might get you killed.

  • jdyer

    The most reliable source for Islamic anti-Semitism is what the Islamicists themselves say:

    From a Lebanese paper:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20021024133755/http://www.dailystar.com.lb/23_10_02/art5.asp

    Nasrallah alleges “Christian Zionist” plot

    “However, Nasrallah added, ?if they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.?”

  • jdyer

    Tony Blair tells it like it is:

    http://www.lawac.org/speech/2005-2006/Blair,%20Tony%202006.pdf

    Future Foreign Policy

    An address given to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council

    on August 1, 2006 by

    The Right Honorable Tony Blair

    Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

    We need a show about this speech.

  • huck finn

    jdyer-

    Glad to see to that you attempted to educate yourself in an area that you’re lacking.

    Yes, Ben-Menashe is a controversial character, however, nothing, not one thing, that he testified to Congressional investigators regarding Iran Contra was not verified by others. As a result, he has many influential enemies in Australia, the US, and Israel, as you can well imagine. Regardless of his veracity as a witness, his analysis of US-Israeli machinations with respect to Iran and Iraq does have an undeniable validity, which I mentioned in an attempt to return to the topic of stratagem and goals.

    Is he a relable source? No more or less than the contributors to wikipedia, I would say. The mere fact that there is wide disagreement about this fellow shows that all is not black and white. But not really the point.

    The point we were originally contending was that there is disinformation and propaganda on all sides, and particularly that the capture of 2 soldiers is a flimsy, overly simplistic justification for the media (and our president) to employ. I stand by that.

  • jdyer

    HF, he is totally unreliable and so is anyone who qotes him.

  • huck finn

    jdyer-

    That gambit won’t work. You are totally unqualified to comment on my or Ben-Menashe’s reliability.

    I answered you point by point. You appear unable to deal with facts you find inconvenient.

    Your search for a reliable source is a fool’s errand.

    I don’t want you to see things as I do, rather just acknowledge that there are different well-founded perspectives than yours. I now recognize the folly in that.

  • Nikos, I still say that the Arabic language is so open to interpretation that you can’t know what was intended by the original writers. I once heard two Arabic-speaking people reading an Arabic passage translate it into English. The two version were so entirely different that they didn’t even have the same subject. Apparently, a small flourish on a character here or there gives symbolic and metaphorical meaning to the use of a word and leaves it open to vast interpretation.

    That said, the Islamists certainly do foster deadly fundamentalism. They are dangerous and we have not effectively managed to altar their course. Which is why I feel that we have to dig as far back into history as possible to see if we can find some nearly primordial core reason for them to be so compelled to this path. What was going on in the time of Muhammed that so many Arabic people would suddenly convert from their pantheistic beliefs to a mono-theistic Judaic one and to embrace this idea of jihad?

    I don’t know enough.. Clearly. But my gut tells me that somehow these people must have felt that their way of life was so threatened that they put aside their tribal differences and banded together to rid the world of “infidels”. Something. There had to be enough fear;/rage present for the Muhammed doctrine to take such a hold so quickly. Could it be that European influences were changing their world from the nomadic/herding life they knew to the stationery/agricultural life that they didn’t know? Is it possible that this enormous loss of cultural identity was too much to bear? A cataclysmic grief that was foisted upon them and left them resentful of others?

    I ask these things because peace is clearly not a motivation for our contemporary Arabs. There is a complex web of uneasy alliances and they almost always conspire to create conflict. If this need for conflict is so deeply embedded, we have to reach way, way down to find out what could be changed to help them shift. I romantically wonder what would happen if we let them destroy all their cities, these citadels of ‘civilization’, gave them the resources necessary to go back to their old ways of life and let them know that we would leave them alone, what would happen?

    Of course, this would have to include the Israelites. I’m not sure if their national psyche fits this vision. After milleniums of oppression, it is hard to see how they could ever reasonably feel safe. It is understandable that they feel the need for high security and over-stated responses. The offensive defense based in a history of relentless trauma.

    But if somehow they could both articulate their greatest fears and the world could help them offer each other protection from those fears. Just perhaps, things could go a little differently.

    It’s a lot to ask and so few people have faith in such a healing process. Still, I continue to probe at the roots and fight against demonization because it really is the only hope. Waging wars has never led to peace.

  • jdyer

    huck finn Says:

    August 2nd, 2006 at 6:16 pm

    This poster calls himself or herself Huck Finn, but sounds more like Tom Sawyer.

    That aside, this is my last reply to him/her.

    Your point about oil being at the root of this crisis is stupid, HF. Nothing more to say to you.

  • jdyer

    “Nikos, I still say that the Arabic language is so open to interpretation that you can’t know what was intended by the original writers.”

    All translations are ambiguous, Allison.

    The Arabic language is no more and no less ambuguous than any other.

    Face it Allison, the Koran is full of anti-Jewish and anti-Christian sentiments which many Islamicists have take at face value and have built whole movements around them.

    Besides, the Muslims did use the Koran to conquer half the world from Arabia to India in the East and Spain and into Southern France in the West.

    Nothing ambiguous about that.

    Islam is an imperialistic religion.

    Islamic Imperialism : A History by Efraim Karsh

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300106033/sr=1-1/qid=1154601443/ref=sr_1_1/002-1371441-5423247?ie=UTF8&s=books

  • huck finn

    I don’t know where you got that, jdyer. However, you surely realize that neocon foreign policy is rooted in imperial control of oil (who receives it and who doesn’t). To ignore the US-Israeli symbiosis in the terror/energy nexus would be short-sighted and outright ignorant.

    You have constipation of the brain and diarrhea of the keyboard. I prescribe more real friends and fewer cyber enemies.

    To other posters, my apologies for bickering with jdyer. While we haven’t been persuasive to any extent, I’m glad that someone may have a greater understanding of October Surprise and Iran Contra as a context for the duplicity that is de rigueur for the US and Israel.

  • jdyer

    Alex Brown Says:

    August 1st, 2006 at 8:01 am

    “The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil”

    huck finn Says:

    August 1st, 2006 at 11:39 am

    “My world view tells me that Alex Brown’s explanation makes far more sense than the red herring of 2 soldier’s capture….”

    nuf said!

  • huck finn

    OK, you’re right. I do think the 2 soldier myth is pretty feeble, and yes I think that oil/arms/$ trumps ideology with the present crowd. But ROOT causes … now that’s a horse of a different color.

  • fiddlesticks

    INvading a country, killing a hald dozen soldeirs and kidnapping two others may be a red herring to some people, but to others is definitely a declaration of war.

  • huck finn

    Those others are ignoring that:

    1) This is not an isolated incident

    2) Germany has been mediating prisoner exchanges between the parties for some time

    3) There is dispute as to the full circumstances and where the actual border resides

    4) There is evidence that IDF had planned this offensive and would have entered Lebannon and initiated air attacks regardless

    5) This is just part of a greater offensive designed to achieve overlapping goals for the US, Israel, and other proxies

    6) Simple explanations make better sound bites

  • jdyer

    fiddlesticks Says:

    August 3rd, 2006 at 10:39 am

    “INvading a country, killing a hald dozen soldeirs and kidnapping two others may be a red herring to some people, but to others is definitely a declaration of war.”

    Of course, but you are wasting your time arguing with people who have an anti-Zionist mind set.

  • huck finn

    If jdyer is Zionism’s torchbearer then we’re all in deep trouble, because her/his unqualified and inaccurate sputum is as fractious as it is predictable and boring. If she/he were to instructively & constructively respond to ideas rather than attacking the source, she/he wouldn’t appear to be a mere neocon apologist.

    fiddlesticks, if you have anything to add regarding the virtual declaration of war, I’d like to hear it. Based on the ample coverage Hezbollah is receiving, had they known of the massive consequences, they would not have acted as they did, but instead thought it was business as usual.

  • Potter

    Good article surveying various opinions on Israel’s Military Policy ( vis a vis hitting civilians) by Ori Nir

    http://www.forward.com/main/printer-friendly.php?id=8224

  • Old Nick

    Allison: first let me say that as one who was once nearly fluent in a eastern Mediterranean language (not my mother-tongue English, and learned in my teens and twenties instead of in childhood) I understand intuitively that most if not all languages offer concepts to their speakers and thinkers that simply don’t translate into others. Alongside this comes an awareness of ambiguity: that words in one context can mean something very different in another.

    So, I understand intuitively that the classical Arabic Mohamed used in the Koran is likely ‘interpretable’ – and perhaps even broadly so.

    However, no language, if it is to have any literal utility, can be so broadly interpretable as to offer the range of meanings of, say, a reading from a deck of Tarot cards. There is, in other words, a limit to the range of meaning anyone can apply to any given word, phrase, sentence, or verse in a scripture. And since the translations I’ve read of the Koran don’t differ in conceptual substance but only in rhetorical style, I suggest that the scripture is ‘interpretable’ only to those who chose to ignore its literal, core meanings. ‘Fundamentalists’, by definition, don’t do this: they read the words, phrases, sentences, and verses literally. This is as true for the believers in the Christian Bible as it is for adherents of the Koran—and in both cases to the detriment of our modern concern with pluralism.

    Your Sufi friends are likely reading the Koran to suit their needs—but so do the Islamists. Moreover, considering and within the context of the many barbarisms bedeviling the seventh century Middle East (and Europe), I suggest that the common translations of Mohamed’s Koran are much more ‘specifically correct’ than ‘interpretatively open’.

    (Sorry for not posting this sooner.)

  • Nick: I hear you and, yes, language has to be rooted in something concrete for the purpose of communication. But many languages have to be heard by the speaker and understood in their context. My father was a tranlator of Chinese. The written ‘word’ can’t convey what the spoken word does, as they use inflection in such a fundamental way. How do you explain the vast variances on the translation of the Lord’s Prayer from Aramaic? http://www.songofhome.com/Klotz.htm

    As for anti-Semitic, anti-Christian rhetoric. I have no doubt. But, then, the Old Testament claims that Israel is the chosen tribe and they are to destroy the other tribes. Being the founding religion from which Christianity and Islam sprang, the roots for this “destroy all who aren’t us” mentality seems to be right there.

    But do all Jews or even all Zionists adhere to a doctrine of wiping out all non-Jews? So, the fact that there may be lines in the Koran that reference such destructive possibility, does mean it is actually the foundation on which the religion is meant to be built.

    Christians have also annihilated others around the world in the name of Jesus. They quote the Bible to support their actions. Again, the Bible was originally written in other languages. I’m not convinced that any truly spritual people ever meant for their words to be applied as such.

  • I would also like to point out that while many wars have been carried out in the name of a religion, the truth is that they are really about power and control over resources. Political leaders use religious rhetoric to motivate their people, but it’s not really why they go to war. The religious discussion is a red herring.

  • Old Nick

    Allison: my beef isn’t with ‘Muslims’ per se, but with the scriptural passages in the Koran—and in the Judeo-Christian Bible’s two testaments—that not merely justify but sanctify bigotry, oppression, imperialism, and slaughter. And all in the name of what I will attempt to characterize in the remainder of this post.

    I will posit two propositions. But first here is what amounts to a ‘disclaimer’ in a monotheistic scripture:

    “No doubt is there about this Book: It is a guidance to the God-fearing,

    “Who believe in the unseen, who observe prayer, and out of what we have bestowed on them, expend for God;

    “And who believe in what hath been sent down to thee, and in what hath been sent down before thee, and full faith have they in the life to come:

    “These are guided by the Lord; and with these it shall be well.�

    I won’t yet credit the provenance of this quote, because, to my mind, it could come from any of the scriptures of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheisms.

    Now, with the phrases “Who believe in the unseen�, and “full faith have they (in the life to come)� ringing in your mind’s ear, please consider these two propositions:

    1. A supernatural entity exists whose greatest concern is the bestowal of reward to human children of virtue. Assisted by angels (or their like), this kindly entity labors throughout the year to create delights for the worthy, delights he then delivers in the year’s bleakest season. This same entity controls an underworld from which he obtains a nasty and dusty black abomination called coal, which he delivers to the unworthy children at the same time the worthy receive their delightful rewards.

    2a. A supernatural entity exists whose greatest concern is the behavior of humans—especially adults (and with an particularly stern eye toward women and girls). Some 6,000 years ago, this entity created the world in seven days; yet he left manifold evidence not of this act, but of a universe and world billions of years old. This, his interlocutors assure us, isn’t a trick but a ‘test of faith’.

    2b. Curiously, this same entity created a shadow self whose purpose is to entrap the weak-willed into transgressions of behavior. To assist the shadow-self, the entity created humans with pleasure-centers on their bodies – but demands that these beneficences be used only sparingly and only in the presence of dominant and guardian males (if you’re female), or in the presence of (one of) your allotment of females entrusted to you (if you’re male). Any other activation of these pleasure centers is the gravest transgression – equivalent in many cases to murder!

    2c. This entity—all-knowing, all-wise, omnipotent and eternal—has no apparent better use of his eternal existence in this apparently infinite venue for action we call the universe than to judge human compliance with this arrangement of temptation-and-proscription, and then to reward the successfully compliant with a paradise which features an embarrassment of riches of the very sorts of pleasures the entity has forbidden humankind to indulge in while alive!

    2d. This same entity urges his faithful to convert and/or slay those in the world who ignore and ridicule the demands of the entity on his putative ‘creations’. The entity, so kindly and loving, has arranged that his shadow-self will incinerate the agonized infidels for the rest of eternity.

    I’ve a couple of requests for those who find comfort in propositions like these:

    1. Provide us evidence—empirically obtained evidence like that from the scientific method—that supports the credibility of either of the propositions.

    2. Provide us evidence—empirically obtained evidence like that from the scientific method—that supports the credibility of one of the propositions over the other.

    3. Or quit demanding that we surrender our credulity to the second of the propositions.

    It seems to me that both propositions share one important essence: they are archetypal mythical projections of male parents. I submit that the reason billions of humans find belief in deities so intuitively agreeable is that we all begin as infants dependent on parents, and as our brains develop toward their eventual adult conditions, we absorb, along with language, the disparities of power in the relationships between the adults in our intimate lives. Thus, the more patriarchal the culture, the more patriarchal the religion and its scriptures.

    I find it telling that Mohamed tacitly admitted the unverifiable nature of his ‘God’:

    “Who believe in the unseen… full faith have they in the life to come…� http://www.infoplease.com/t/rel/koran/sura2.html

    Now, it isn’t my place to tell hundreds of millions of people that their deity is in reality no more verifiable than Santa Claus – although I sure wish my fellow humans would begin to use their own noggins and come to grips with this obvious equation.

    But I am entirely within my rights to demand that the religious remake their religions from ‘dangerous nuisances’ for the rest of us into benign associations for the believers – like knitting clubs or other dogmatically harmless human associations.

    To be blunt, if Islam wants to present itself as ‘a religion of peace’, then it needs to quit talking the talk and actually walk the walk: edit its scriptures. As long as the Koran and hadith include exhortations to ‘behead the infidels’, and that ‘fighting is obligatory for the faithful’, it can’t be what it claims. It’s up to Muslims to do this. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of others.

    Lastly, as to the common excuse that religion is ‘a red herring’: let’s say you’re right—that religion doesn’t in fact symbiotically mold the host cultures who then use it as a justification for their non-religious violence. (Which, I submit, is an excuse that can’t stand up to authentic analysis.) But even if it’s true that religion is ‘innocent’, isn’t it in everyone’s interest to remove the verses from scriptures that religionists trumpet to justify their violence, their sexism, their claims of religious superiority, and all the rest of the reprehensible purposes these ‘religions of peace’ are put to?

    And why is left to disbelievers like me to point out something so blatantly obvious?

    Can it be because religion, isolated with the cocoon of our taboo against criticism, effectively cripples the cranial organs of rational thought all we humans share?

  • Niko,

    Whether there is a divine being or not – which you have so often let us know that you do not believe in – is a different discussion than the one about language and how people interpret to suit their own motivations. When I say that religion is a red herring, I mean that the leaders use it as a red herring. The believers fall for it. Religion that doesn’t make room for individual questioning and insists upon authoritarian control, lends itself to the whims of ruthless leaders.

    I agree that it would be useful to remove the verses that support hate. What I suggest is that scholars look at the original texts and see if there is an different interpretation that serves peace. I say this, because those who believe are less likely to be moved by the censoring of that which they so heartily follow than they are if their leaders teach them that they have been misled by a misinterpretation.

    Hey, was that knitting club reference just for me? Don’t be knocking my religion. I might just have to have my knitters knit in silence to send you a little faith! That’ll learn ya. ;-b

  • Niko, a link for you regarding translations of the Koran

    http://www.juancole.com/2003/01/koran-and-fighting-unbelievers.html

  • Old Nick

    Allison: First, thanks for the lol you gave me in your 7:27 PM, Aug 7th. Yes, I did pick the knitting club example with you in mind. I’ve long had an image of your club being a peaceful place wherein people can partake in a calm, reasonable, cooperative (sharing skills and tricks) and non-competitive association.

    Second, I like your show suggestion. If I can think of any resources (books, mostly) to supplement the potential for a show, I’ll forward them to you (but I won’t intrude on your suggestion – if you like the resources, you can add them to the suggestion).

    Third, regarding your link to Informed Comment, which makes this point: “(quoted Koranic) verses (are often) listed hodgepodge, lacking any context and failing to make any distinctions� – I agree! And I would like to add a contribution of my own to this call for distinctions and context.

    My own relevant Karen Armstrong tome is Islam: A Short History. Its opening chapter includes this:

    (quote)

    He (Muhammad) had long been worried by what perceived to be a crisis in Arab society… Mecca had become a thriving mercantile city, but in the aggressive stampede for wealth some of the old tribal values had been lost. Instead of looking after the weaker members of the tribe, as the nomadic code prescribed, the Quraysh were now intent on making money at the expense of some of the tribe’s poorer family groupings, or clans. There was also spiritual restlessness in Mecca and throughout the peninsula. Arabs knew that Judaism and Christianity, which were practiced in the Byzantine and Persian empires, were more sophisticated (I question this historian’s monotheistic premise—Nick) than their own pagan traditions. Some had come to believe that the High God of their pantheon, Al-Lah…was the deity worshipped by the Jews and Christians, but he had sent the Arabs no prophet and no scripture in their own language. Indeed, the Jews and Christians whom they met often taunted the Arabs for being left out of the divine plan. (I question this too, especially since many of the ‘Arabs’ were simultaneously Christians—like Waraqa ibn Nawfal: the cousin of Mohamed’s first (and independently wealthy) wife Khadija. By this reckoning, the ‘Arabs’ (as a whole) weren’t being taunted, but only Arab polytheists.—Nick Anyway…) But that changed on the night of 17 Ramadan, when Muhammad woke to find himself overpowered by a devastating presence, which squeezed him tightly until he heard the first words of a new Arabic scripture pouring from his lips.

    (unquote)

    http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=17-081296618x-1

    There’s so much food for discussion in this excerpt.

    Using the metaphoric lens of ‘memes’, you can posit that one man’s worries over a growing ‘modern’ selfishness (the capitalism meme), combined with the monotheism meme (already nascent in the preexisting cultural stew’s ‘High God’ concept), combined with a pervasive cultural resentment of feeling as if ‘the neighbors think we’re barbarians!’ (surely ancestral to the ‘Arab humiliation’ meme’ discussed on ROS last week), stimulated a new mutation of the Abrahamic religion meme. (And, it must be noted, the mutation found its first mouthpiece in what sounds suspiciously like a hynopompic hallucination – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallucination & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnopompia .)

    Beyond ‘memetic’ analyses, it’s obvious that Mohamed was hardly the “devil’s tool� fundamentalist Christians like to villainize him to be. No matter how obsolete we might deem the details of this parochial seventh century cultural evolution (more on this in my next post), it’s hard to argue that the original impulse was as close to ‘humanistic’ as one could expect from a medieval milieu.

    I want to make it plain that my complaint with Islam is its resistance to modernizing evolutions. If Islam were as pacific a religion as Jainism – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism – whose adherents kill no living animal (macroscopic, anyway), I’d have no complaint outside of the vestigial medieval sexism the religion codified in hadith (see Geraldine Brooks’s Nine Parts of Desire – http://www.powells.com/biblio/17-0385475772-0 – which I cannot recommend highly enough).

    Another thing we can parse from the Armstrong quote is that Mohamed was obsessed with the perceived legitimacy of his new faith: the second Sura (chapter) of the Koran is an extended argument for legitimacy. It seems obvious to me that this anxiety over legitimacy is alive even (and especially) today; but, and more to the point, the ‘convert them or kill them’ rhetoric in the Koran and hadith almost surely stems from this legitimacy-anxiety. More on this later…

    This post is terribly incomplete but already much too long. I’ll offer more from Armstrong (and another post I’ve mostly finished) later this evening.

    But I can’t sign off without thanking you for the civility of your responses thus far (predictable, knowing you). I hope my own contributions to this conversation are equally politic, despite my obvious frustration with the irrational protectiveness surrounding the central subjects of this topic.

  • Ah, Niko, you may express your frustrations, but you do rejoin the conversation with aplomb and a lot of research!

    I happen to like Karen Armstrong. And Elaine Pagels. (Probably because I appreciate hearing from women in the academic world.) While they both have their inner bias toward monotheism, particularly christianity, they also bring a refreshing sense of the humanistic context that led to ‘spiritual’ ‘prophecies’, ‘revelations’ or whatever you want to call them, that resulted in religious dogma.

    I believe that people who truly have unadulterated spiritual revelations remove themselves from earthly politics. Looking at the prospect of eternity, people usually stop caring about earthly possessions and power. The Christian bible has plenty of examples of Jesus doing exactly this. “My concerns are not of this world.”

    In some sense, we are on the same page. I don’t believe that the powers at be have spiritual motivations for their political strategies. It always seems to be about power and resources. Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse” explores the demise of civilizations over time. It barely mentions religion.

    And at the risk of being labeled ‘anti-semitic”, I will argue, that the Israelites are on shaky ground using religious persecution as the grounds for their fears of their neighbors. They started the intolerance for peaceful co-existence model. I’ve posted this tidbit elsewhere, but the first group in that region of the world to launch a holy war and annihilate innocent people as a way to get the land they wanted were the Israelites. Certainly, they were persecuted in Egypt. But they fled to Egypt because of famine in Israel, not because anybody persecuted them. Gone for centuries. others settled the land. Canaanites. When the Israelites fled Egypt and then spent forty years in the Sinai desert, they had a “directive” from God to murder all the Canaanites in order to reclaim their “promised” land. Hmm, they just might have made other people a little wary of them…… And then Christianity and Islam sprang from Judaism. Wonder where all this hateful, violent intolerance came from?

    It all needs to stop. But mostly, every nation or person who has picked up a weapon and wielded it against another must stop claiming to be the victim. Especially if the opposition has less resources and smaller weapons. I have no patience for rocket-launching, nuclear weapon building, militant nations that cry victimhood, be they Americans, Israelis, or Muslims. If I had three children hitting each other all the time and building bigger and better ways to hurt one another, I’d take away all their toys, tie them to chairs and put them in a room with their backs one another. When they all agreed to stop any violence or subversive destruction, then they could sit together and have dinner at the family table. Until then, they’ll get sustenance through a feeding tube. I don’t care what you call God or what you think he (of course it’s a man) told you you could to do others, the rest of us are telling you you can’t and if you want any chance of living a decent life, you’ll learn to play well with others. It’s called growing up and being the social creatures that we are.

    There’s my uncivil rant for the evening….

  • Old Nick

    Allison, here’s more from Armstrong’s Islam: A Short History:

    (quote)

    (Muhammad) taught the Arabs no new doctrines about God: most of (his tribe) the Quraysh were already convinced that Allah had created the world and would judge humanity in the Last Days, as Jews and Christians believed. Muhammad did not think he was founding a new religion, but that he was merely bringing the old faith in the One God to the Arabs, who had never had a prophet before… If the Quraysh did not mend their ways, their society would collapse…because they were violating the fundamental laws of existence.

    …It seemed pointless (to Muslims) to argue about (abstruse theological) dogmas; far more crucial was the effort (jihad) to live the way that God had intended for human beings. The political and social welfare of the ummah (Muslim community) would have sacramental value for Muslims. If the ummah prospered, it was a sign that Muslims were living according to God’s will, and the experience of living in a truly islamic community, which made this existential surrender to the divine, would give Muslims intimations of sacred transcendence. Consequently, they would be affected as profoundly by any misfortune or humiliation suffered by the ummah, as Christians by the spectacle of somebody blasphemously trampling on the Bible or ripping the Eucharistic host apart.

    (unquote)

    Now, I have to confess I’ve never ever comprehended the common religious obsession with ‘transcendence’ – whatever it means. I take it to mean that life on Earth is somehow intolerable and inadequate, and, therefore, that humans require some means (religion) to ‘transcend’ the fundamental reality of human existence. Me, I’ve always found this third rock from the Sun nothing short of utterly glorious, even when my life has been in its several ebb states (near death, and with suffering on a couple of occasions). So, I’m a damn poor listener whenever the word ‘transcendence’ appears. I just don’t get it (and probably never will). I’m probably more intuitively Buddhist or Taoist than anything else (by this I mean that I understand intuitively the usual ‘grin and bear it’ message of the Zen masters—although I can’t pretend to know much more than that about the Eastern disciplines of enlightened consciousness we Westerners conflate with our own ‘faith’ religions).

    Anyway, my own inadequacies aside, I can’t help but see the core of Islamism in the second quoted paragraph above: “(Muslims) would be affected…profoundly by any misfortune or humiliation suffered by the ummah…�

    Right there, in 14 words, sits exposed the hostility against Israel and all other agents of ‘Arab (Muslim) humiliations’.

    Add to that this: “If the ummah prospered, it was a sign that Muslims were living according to God’s will…�, deduct a thousand or so points for today’s comparative lack of Islamic prosperity vis-a-vis the West, and, I think, you get a ‘jihad’ that is much, much more internally logical than the typical nonsensical rhetoric about ‘terrorists’ and their ‘hatred of our freedoms’. You get an internally consistent ‘jihad’ that’s rooted in the Koran and hadith, but is much more than even a simpleminded drive to ‘conquer infidels’.

    This jihad is both faithful and righteous (by Islamic, not humanistic, standards). It’s the Islamist drive to purify the ummah – to eradicate non-Muslim influence, as bin Laden wants to do in Saudi Arabia by removing the Americans (and other ‘infidels’). And as many other Islamists want to do anywhere and everywhere in the ummah’s lands ‘defiled’ by powerful and prosperous non-Muslims.

    More coming later…

  • Niko, transcendence is not about this world being intolerable. It is about overcoming the perception that it is. Sounds like you have managed a certain amount of that.

    As for purifying the unmah, the 14 words refer to being affect if “misfortune or humiliation are suffered.’ Reads to me as though it is a response to something that someone does to them, not just a passive possibility that they are suffering and someone else is not. So, they are talking about responding. Though, in other places the Koran states that to be living in Islam you must offer peace to your enemies.Again, I think that perspective of historians, translators and believers affect how one interpret’s Mohammed’s words. And geopolitical context will determine which words people will use to justify their actions.

    I, too, think that ‘jihad’ is much more internally/spiritually logical than we care to understand. What I also think, is that if we understand how they locked into this logic, we may be able to see ways to get them to let go of it and move to another interpretation of Islam.

    In other words, people are going to do whatever they want to do and they’ll find ways to justify it. And the motivational mechanism are more earthly than even they want to admit. When people feel threatened, disempowered, or impoverished, they seek solace and power. Both can come from the concept of a god that offers them something ‘greater’ than this world and imbues them with the righteous justification for wielding power over others. To reverse this is a long piece of work. You must contain and then rehabituate people. But fueling their sense of powerlessness and increasing their experience of poverty isn’t ever going to achieve that. The leaders of each side have to understand that.

    This is why I think that the analysis that allowing Hezbollah to ‘normalize’ by having a place in Lebanese government and watching their members move up out of poverty would slowly over time remove their motivations to acrifice themselves in the name of Allah. The pull of religion is vastly reduced when people have functional lives. When they’re poor and uneducated, they are so desperate they can’t see how false their motivations are and how easily they are being manipulated by those with power and resources that don’t want to give any of it up, and would use these sad people to see what more they can get. And the psyche has been built up over generations.

    I read somewhere that the Hezbollah funders back in Iran were not happy with Hezbollah’s willingness to negotiate with the elected government in Palestine. There are factions within Hezbollah. And the recent kidnappings may have been committed by non-Palestinian Hezbollah in order to restart hostilities to make the Palestinians and Israelis angry with Hezbollah, maintaining the social divide. The same may be true for happened on the Lebanese border. This latest round of hostilities has served to gel the Hezbollah factions. And has destroyed the Lebaniese infrastructure that could offer Lebanese Hezbollahs a normal life. Again, there may be an internalized spiritual logic regarding jihad, but you see less and less of it as people move up out of poverty. Except for a few powerful people seeking power and using the impoverished to suit their needs.

  • Oh, to be clear about my statements above regarding the first holy war, I do understand that after the Holocaust experience (and a myriad other experiences of persecution) it makes sense that the Jews would more than trigger happy at the hint of threat. My point was that at some point everybody has to back off and ask whether there is anything they can do to end the violence. One thing might be acknowledging that these hatreds were born millenenia ago and whenever one group executes a holy war they lose the trust of anyone else. Once you’ve been willing to kill someone, it’s not so easy to trust that you won’t jump to that option again. So, if Israeli’s can’t see that in their history they have been capable of extinguishing others simply because they didn’t want to co-exist (even if that fear of co-existence was based on the fact that they weren’t welcomed into Egyptian society) then they deny the reality that others have a basis for fearing their potential for aggression.

    The same goes for Muslims and Christians and nation states that have the audacity to think they have the right to invade another nation….

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