Evolution of Dispossession

Evolution of Dispossession
How to Steal a Country?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Did you ask them if they were militants?

Always the same story from the Israeli side: Those Palestinians killed were militants and they planned attacks on Israel. An obvious question to ask is how do they know they were all militants? I know the Mossad is not doing field intelligence against all these targets. But when the Israelis always defend their actions with the same reason, even when 13 year-old stone throwers are shot in the head, one has to wonder.

In the picture beside the article, a 6 month old baby was killed by Israel in the airstrike. It's indeed tragic how this event was relegated to the caption and not the headline of the story.

The Israeli killed by the rocket is also tragic and the tactics of Hamas are not morally acceptable. But to suggest Hamas should not fight back nor has the right to fight back is ludicrous.

We are witnessing the end behavior of a 40 year occupation, and Israel needs to end its immoral and illegal occupation, which is the source of the problem, not the solution.


wdporter said...

Kudos to you for calling actions by Hamas as morally unacceptable. I obviously only glance occasionally these days, but it's a first admission in an initial post that I have noticed, although I'm sure you've made the point before.

Could I ask you to clarify for me, though? Is it only the TACTICS of Hamas that you find morally reprehensible? I would argue it goes beyond tactics, wouldn't you?

If we're only talking "tactics" then we could excuse a whole bunch of Israeli atrocities as bad "tactics," couldn't we.

Follow this quote for me:

"The Palestinian killed by the rocket is also tragic and the tactics of Israel are not morally acceptable. But to suggest Israel should not fight back nor has the right to fight back is ludicrous."

That argument has been used by me and others on an almost DAILY basis and is routinely dismissed.

You see how easy it is? Eventually we need to completely get beyond the question of "who started it." It simply doesn't matter any more.

scottie said...

I strongly disagree with you on the point that it does not matter who started what.

It does matter, and the solution of this conflict lies with first diagnosing the problem, which the whole world has reached a consensus on, except of course for the US and Israel.

The article mentions that the rockets were in reprisals against the Israeli attack. The point is there is no way to draw the line between action and reaction. There have been so many cycles of both sides attacking the other, so any advocate could honestly say their side was reacting.

But in matters like these, let's see what the disinterested governing bodies say and what international law says ....

Israel comes out on the wrong end of the stick on each important issue ; settlements, house demolitions, occupation, refugees, killing of civilians, etc

I have never excused the tactics of Hamas as I have never condoned Israeli behavior, but again the point is Israel is fighting demons of its own creation ; Hamas (Mossad helped create as a counterweight to the PLO which had very legitimate grievances)and Hezbollah (which Israel's ILLEGAL occupation of Lebanon for 18 years sparked the organization of). So it is hard for me to buy your "shoe-on-other-foot" argument (which you stole from me anyway ...bet you can't remember the context) because if Israel were to abide by its binding UN resolutions, Geneva conventions, World Court rulings, and most importantly its own signed treaties, like Camp David, there would already be a state for the Palestinians.

wdporter said...

All very valid points.

Except the one where I stole your "shoe-on-the-other-foot" argument but somehow simultaneously forgot the context.

And my only point there was not that we shouldn't use the "shoe-on-the-other-foot" argument, but that we should. Not doing so invites severe intellectual inconsistency. If I was unwilling concede that at an earlier date, then there is chance I was wrong (happens occasionally) depending on what you were describing. I can't assume it's UNIVERSALLY applicable but again...but apparently you remember the context and I don't so enlighten me.

But anyway...I think we have stumbled upon the core of our disagreement, and that is:

I believe that when the source of a conflict has started a solid two or three generations back, and the source of the blame is as controversial as this (and there indeed IS no "International Consensus" on blame--there are understandably two very alive and functional positions.) at some point you have to stop and consider solutions instead of blame.

Not that Israel has been pure on either, but I think Palestinian Leadership and most recently Hamas have been equally impure.

{kindof a side note--Recently I heard a VERY Conservative figure make the argument that the U.S. probably should stop trying to spread "Democracy" because it always results in something we don't like. (Hamas being only the most recent example) and we always come out looking like assholes when we don't like the result--and I'd have to concede that point.}

But again I'll ask you, is it Hamas' TACTICS you find repulsive or is it their overarching philosophy and behavior in General? I obviously have had the same intellectual inconsistency. I have only been willing to condemn Israeli "tactics", but have excused it based on necessity of defending itself. It may seem semantical, but I'm of the opinion these words mean a lot.

Not that anyone but the two of us is in the position to care at this point...but is there a consensus to be found somewhere in there?

Knowing that we will probably always disagree on how important (or possible to determine) core blame really is, but willingness to actually condemn philosophy, strategy and behavior instead of just "tactics."

Just a thought.

scottie said...

There is an international consensus on the solution, not blame. The pragmatic approach at this point would be to solve the problem, not to assign blame. Assigning blame for past wrongs doesn't offer any hope for the people who currently suffer, whether its the Gazans who are suffering tremendously because of Israeli policy and US sanctions or whether its the residents of Sderot who have to worry about rocket attacks.

The consensus from the whole international community, mod the US and Israel and a few tiny island nations in the Federated States of Micronesia, is that Israel must withdraw to the 1967 June borders, scrap its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem which is to be the capital of a Palestinian state. In 1988, the vote in the GA was 154-2. I looked up on the UN's site the votes from year to year on the issue of Palestine, and it has roughly remained static.

This is the core of the problem. The solution must address this grievance. There are issues like right of return and border issues, which could be resolved through negotiations, but the basic parameters of solving the issue outright are known. The parties dragging their feet are Israel and the US, plain and simple.

On Hamas, their tactics should be discussed. When Hamas was voted into power by the Palestinian people, the vote was monitored by the EU and the UN, and the outcome was a resounding victory for Hamas. Before the elections and for a good time afterwards, Hamas had lived up to its self-imposed cease-fire. These tactics were good tactics. Don't give the Israelis a reason to further punish the Palestinian people. And again, not to put too fine a point on it, what ended the Hamas cease-fire? Hamas and Fatah in their power struggle in the summer of 2006 both agreed to implicitly recognize Israel. But then Gilad Shalit was captured by Islamic Jihad (in response to a Palestinian doctor and his brother being kidnapped by IDF forces the day before) and Palestinian cabinet members were captured by the IDF, then the violence started again.

I think Hamas should re-write its charter. It should explicitly recognize Israel. But all of this is immaterial. The Arab League proposals, resurrected last year, offered full recognition by every single Arab nation. What was the Israeli response? The Israelis did not even sit down with the Arab League and discuss proposals. What happened at Annapolis? They agreed to more talks but nothing has come to fruition. Gideon Levy's article on this issue is very poignant. Rice said the Arab nations ought to extend a hand to Israel ! This is ludicrous for her to say. They did, and the Israelis did not even have talks.

Obstructionism has a limited life span.

wdporter said...

I think we're really close.

I'd agree with most of these points with a couple of clarifications:

1) Hamas' also shares responsibility for the dire circumstances of Gazan residents, not just residents of Sderot. Fatah residents of Gaza were treated at least as harshly by Hamas as they were by Israel.

2) Offering an 18 month ceasefire on the condition that Israel accept a 10-year "hudna" is not "tentatively accepting existence of Israel." But we've been through that. Eventually you'll give that one up, though. :)

3) Oh...and we've been through this too: Israel will NEVER give up East Jerusalem. It doesn't matter whether they should, could, or ought to. They're not. The "international consensus" on that part of the solution has been pretty clear that Israel would keep East Jerusalem in any potential deal (again right or wrong).

But on the rest you have great points. My take has always been that the Israelis have always effectively (and wrongly) used the Palestinian BARRIERS to peace, as excuses to not move forward with potential PARTNERS in peace. That's their form of obstructionism. They have also pulled Israelis out of settlements though...unilaterally, and have gotten punished for it (from both sides). Call them "token" if you'd like, but if giving up a little gets you a lot of flak, it makes it that much harder to give up a lot.

The Hamas form of obstructionism is way less rational. You take away Hamas, though, and Israel is out of excuses, don't you think?

scottie said...

Absent Hamas, Israel would would quote the threat from Hezbollah or the "tyranny of the majority" at the UN (which are the words of a US official)

But other than that, I agree with most of your comments.