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ah. post the anti-israel jewish article yesterday, and the anti-israel arab article today. very even handed of you, norm. you know, given the simple factual innacuracies of both articles which apparantly slipped your editorial net, i'd say you are underqualified to be objective. how's that for charitable?

given that you are supposed to be an expert in unbelief, you sure are gullible. just one small example of many: both articles claim that israel describes its current activities in the gaza strip as "retaliation" for hamas rocket attacks. israel has made no such claim.

So educate us. What is correct in today's article and what is incorrect. No cherry picking. Go item by item, give us the unadorned facts as you see them. The fair and balanced view of, if I'm not mistaken a settler.

both articles claim that israel describes its current activities in the gaza strip as "retaliation" for hamas rocket attacks. israel has made no such claim.

So the BBC report that stated the following is wrong, or are you making the claim that it's not retaliation, but just a non-retaliatory response to the escalation?

Israel said it was responding to an escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza and would bomb "as long as necessary".

of course i'm aware you're under no obligation to be fair or even-handed. but, for someone who walks the edge as much as you do you have a pretty good record for being right, or at least correct, and i hate to see your stats take a dive. :) (this is me realizing i was a little harsh there before)

The real problem here (for non-involved observers) is that it is difficult to accept that BOTH sides are in the wrong. We all, as humans, have the desire to find an easy answer to a problem and to allocate blame. Both sides are to blame to some extent, but probably the arrogant idiots who set up the situation in the last century are the most appropriate culprits. Unfortunately we can't undo history, but it is history that feeds such disputes (Protestant/Catholic in Northern Ireland, Pakistan/India, Former Yugoslavian republics are all in turmoil because of history, more or less ancient.) My personal problem is that many of the "Arrogant Idiots" were British!

both articles claim that israel describes its current activities in the gaza strip as "retaliation" for hamas rocket attacks. israel has made no such claim.

OK. What do YOU think are Israel's reasons for launching airstrikes and killing 360 (and counting) Palestinians, including at least 20 children? I realize that, since Israel appears to have planned these strikes for months, retaliation for rocket attacks is probably not the reason, but (to the best of my knowledge) the Israeli government has offered no other explanation.

From my perspective as a non-Jewish, non-Arab tourist (I returned from that area last month) Israeli motivation seems to center around expansion of borders "to the river" and an attempt to hold all Palestinians in a series of bantustans, where all movement between townships is severely restricted. As one who grew up in South Africa, it sure looked like apartheid to me.

In 2008 there have been 17 Israeli deaths as a result of Hamas/Terrorist actions. Seventeen.

Don't you think that sending in airstrikes and killing hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of children in response is a bit excessive? Do you think that this will cause more terrorist actions or fewer?

If I'm not reading the "balanced" point of view, please point me to where a truly balanced way of seeing this conflict lies. Until then, I'll simply use this site: [Israelis and Palestinians Killed in the Current Violence] (http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/deaths.html).

It is clear there is plenty of blame to go around. I don't see that either side is blameless. But in the U.S. there is an obvious bias toward the Israeli view of the 'facts' The Israeli's don't need another cheerleader, but I'm certainly interested in the facts.

Oh dear oh dear... where to begin? Let's see... First of all, I've seen many people argue that qassams don’t kill. Oh really? And suicide bombers? Well, we all know those do kill... civilians and children in particular are generally targeted but ok, let's concentrate on quassams... Actually - they do kill. The fact that they haven't killed that many is nothing short of, really, a miracle (and I'm not big on the whole God thing). Dozens of Israelis (and even Arab Israelis) were killed and wounded by rocket fire in recent years. And hello? They, Hamas, have just bombed Beersheva... Israel's 4th largest city. What would America do, under any goverment not only Bushies, if Mexico was intermittantly lobbing rockets at Houston, then Las Vegas and then reaching as far as Kansas City? I'm sorry... do you NOT have some kind of border crossing set up down south? Illegal immigrants trying to cross over? How, precisely, would you react if these poor people from Mexico just trying to cross over to find work would allow themselves, or be forced, to accomodate terorists intent on on releasing the next 9/11 on you? And their government would lob rockets at you every once in a while... WTF? I don't think it would take very long for all the bleeding hearts to pick up any available weapon and defend their CHILDREN. I am not for a settlement in the West Bank. I live in undisputed Israeli land from forever. My house was build at the turn of the century and has always been in a Jewish neighborhood. And I have to worry about my children getting on public buses to get to school in the morning? Seriously guys... WTF?

As for a seige... yes. You know what? We really don't allow that many people into Israel these days. Fair. You want a state, fine. Have a state. All yours. And yet we still supplu water, etlectricity, and even allow human aid in. You want to come out? Sorry dudes... didn't you want a State of your own? You want to work in Israel? Hey - no problem. Stop trying to kill us... Stop saying that you want all Jews in the ocean... Stop saying that you'll never stop fighting until all of this region is yours an all Jews here are in the sea and I'm sure that we can come to some kind of agreement... Unitl then... hey - go to Egypt. What? They don't want terrorists either and will only open their border if Abbas is in charge? NO! Well... that must be the Jews fault as well now isn't it? Fact: Israel has allowed goods into Gaza regularly throughout the “siege”. The day before this new thing... what is it? Oh, Jews actually defending themselves from being slaughtered (not used to that are you? rather we go quietly to the gas chambers? why am I not surprised?) Israel allowed dozens of trucks carrying aid to enter Gaza. Today, in the middle of the offensive, another 100 trucks Gaza. Interesting to note that Egypt has kept her crossings mostly closed... hmmmm....

Now what about targeting those poor civilians? Don't get me wrong... I really feel for them. I feel really really sorry for them - stuck between a freakin' rock and a heard place... but Israel targeting civilians?

We've been bombing Gaza for days, deploying massive air power, dropping hundreds, literally hundreds, of bombs, and ultimately killing a grand total of 50 civilians or so in one of the most crowded place on earth? and yet the civilian casualties are only about 50? Heck - they killed off 5 of their own last week when THEIR OWN missles feel short of their mark and when another one detonated prematurely... I didn't hear massive crying in the media about that...

The fact is that Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Not only are we targeting very specific targets, but we are sending out messages via radio and SMS to mobile phones (and yes, there ae a lot of people with mobile phones) saying exactly where the strikes will be. We're targeting Hamas, who is targeting us. I can't for the life of me recall any such "head's up" when a suicie bomber was on their way....

And, unlike Hamas and their followers, we do NOT celebrate this by dancing and giving out candy to children as was done in the streets of Gaza when Al Quaida brought down the twin towers. No... far from it. We too mourn the losses of innocent lives.... It is very very very sad... Very sad.

We've tried talking. We've tried waiting for the world to respond. We've been under fire for years/ Please excuse me if I now refuse to sit quietly by while my friends and family are bing shelled in the south and bombed in their cities. This time... this time I think we should fight back.

as pedantsareus pointed out, the roots of many world conflicts are to be found in the breakup of the british empire, including this one, and a knowledge of history is required in order to make informed judgements.

for the purposes of this article, your man abunimah needed only to brush up on the history of the conflict for the last year or two. rooting out the lies, misdirection and hyperbole in his article is just too big a job for me right now- the problems are literally in every line of his polemic. i'm also not interested in "defending" israel, believe it or not. jews, yes. israel, no.

so here's a few facts necessary to understand what's going on here, and in these articles.

hamas was, it's true, democratically elected to form part of a palestinian government after israel removed ALL its soldiers and citizens 3 years ago. 18 months ago they took over the strip by force, killing and exiling the non-hamas (fatah) members of the government, and set up what is by any definition a fascist, dictatorial theocracy in the west bank.

again, there is no israeli occupation in gaza.

the reasons for israel and egypt controlling the borders are complex but, to put it simply, them hamas boys is a danger to themselves and others.

it is not true, as the first article says, that no one was killed by hamas rockets during the ceasefire (or "lull", in arabic)and whole israeli towns and cities have been living under the gun for years, air raid sirens and random destruction almost every day. the # of rockets increased dramatically when the ceasefire expired last friday.

many of the israeli "sins" referred to by the authors of both articles, such as "violent colonization", "targetted killings" and such, are not at all applicable to the situation in gaza.

i think probably both these columnists are long term anti-israel, pro-palestinian writers, and they just haven't been keeping up with the facts on the ground.

it is egypt, not israel, which is keeping gaza's southern border sealed.

as to the real purpose of the current israeli operation there, since someone asked my opinion: the israeli defence minister yesterday called it an "all out war to the finish" with hamas. this doesn't seem realistic to me, as i don't think a movement like hamas can be destroyed militarily without perpetrating some REAL massacres (you people do use that term rather lightly). but, my impression is that this is an attempt, no matter how doomed, at regime change, i.e. replacing hamas with fatah. but that's just my opinion as a settler. :)

sorry, that should have been "fascist, dictatorial theocracy in GAZA." here i was guilty of the same mistake these columnists are making.

Teens dont keep virginity pledges?!?!?!?!

Holy cow! Maybe they don't work after all! (Sorry, I was reacting like this news was actually new)

(Sorry, I was reacting like this news was actually new)

The headline isn't new if that's what you mean. The methodology of the study was and it revealed some new insights.

1) Israel could not exist without a Jewish majority(their best interest)

2) Israel does not want an independent Palestenian state or "area" with full sovereignty (their best interest)

3) Israel can do whatever it wants to gain that aim.

Now who could go against their best interest ?

note that gaza does not act as an idependant state. It was hostage to israeli good will on supplying it with food. There are no sea or air links to the outside world without the israeli green light.

Its silly to try to put a moral face on all this. there is none. Israeli knesset members have boldly and honestly said before,directly or indirectly, that this is the way it is going to be. And it will be that way since Israel has the military, technological and political upper hand. I am not saying its bad or good, its what they have to do to exist the way they do. There is no comparing apartheid south africa with israel. South africa had poor diplomatic relations with foreign countries and failed to hold on to their apartheid system. Israel on the otherhand is a lot wiser.

to bolster my point about regime change and it's importance for a peaceful resolution:

everyone-that is, america, europe, palestinian "moderates" and israeli "moderates" agrees on a "two states for two peoples" model for a peaceful resolution. palestinian hardliners may feel that fatah is a puppet of the west, and israeli hardliners may feel that fatah and hamas are essentially the same with regard to their ultimate goals of ejecting the state of israel from the middle east.

but if one wants to talk about a two state solution, the geographical realities dictate that a future state of palestine be in two geographically distinct areas. and for this to occur, i hope you'll agree that a unified palestinian leadership is necessary. with hamas in full control of gaza, and taking into account their position as "hardliners", this is simply impossible. this israeli attempt at regime change, as hopeless and misguided as it may be, is an attempt to create the possibility of a peaceful, two state solution.

this is not an attempt to excuse any death or suffering caused by this "war on hamas", but rather an attempt to put this suffering into a larger context. i realize how paltry it may sound, and like i said i don't see a possibility of success this way. but this is the essential platform of israel's current gov't., and it's in line with the thinking of the "civilized world"- namely, a two state solution at any cost. i don't agree with this thinking, but i understand it, just as i understand hamas's rocket attacks as simple ego boosting measures for a population under siege. just remember that israel, too, is under siege.

i'm also not interested in "defending" israel, believe it or not. jews, yes. israel, no.

You more recent comments sounded slightly more moderate. But the conflation between the criticism of Israeli military policy and an alleged 'attack on the Jewish people' is a right-wing talking point. I'm hoping that was not your point, but I frankly do not seeing the bearing of race or religious affiliation when it comes to a sensible discussion of Israel's policies: one could be "pro-jewish" (whatever that means) and still vigorously condemn Israel's actions. If you wish to have a real, factually informed discussion of this issue, very well, but simply dismissing others as misinformed, or worse, implying that criticism of Israel is "anti-jewish" racial basis in a forum like this one, will not advance matters.

Israel has rejected a cease-fire. Noblesse oblige.

I am willing to admit you probably know more than I on this issue, Jonathan. But, at the very least, a total military escalation in response to terrorism, and the frank acceptance of the "collateral damage" that goes with it by those who perpetrate it, seems to me like pouring gasoline on fire to put it out. Even putting its moral aspects aside for a moment, it's just bad policy.

no, adam, i wasn't even implying that criticism of israels policies necessarily equals anti-semitism (though now that you mention it, it is a common, um, ambush spot for anti-semites). i myself am very critical of israel's policies, though probably not the ones you are critical of.

your "noblesse oblige" comment was well spoken and to the point. but as i said, i'm not here to defend israel, i'm just interested in intelligent, informed discussion with at least the basic facts, which aren't that complicated (i mean regarding the current war) as straight and agreed upon as possible.

regarding "total military escalation"- like i said about words like "massacre" and "holocaust", i think, with all due respect, that many pundits of the armchair variety have forgotten what these words actually mean. given the overwhelming superiority of israeli firepower, believe me, this isn't anywhere close to "total military escalation".

since i am willing to accept the viewpoint that it matters not to the parents if a child is killed on purpose or as "collateral damage", i hope my ideological opponents will at least admit that the state of israel, for all it's faults and engorged military might, is not targetting civilians, and that if it wanted to, it could certainly level the entire gaza strip and kill everyone there.

again, this is not a defence of israel, in fact this point is often levelled against israel, but is, simply, a fact.

Jonathan:

regarding "total military escalation"- like i said about words like "massacre" and "holocaust", i think, with all due respect, that many pundits of the armchair variety have forgotten what these words actually mean. given the overwhelming superiority of israeli firepower, believe me, this isn't anywhere close to "total military escalation".

I did not use charged words like "massacre" and "holocaust"; I didn't even come close to it. "Full military escalation" was an allusion to the fact that Israel is considering sending in ground forces after the bombings, and as you yourself remarked:

as to the real purpose of the current israeli operation there, since someone asked my opinion: the israeli defence minister yesterday called it an "all out war to the finish" with hamas.

If I had said, "all out war to the finish," rather than the more blithe and technical "full military escalation", would it have been less dramatic?

Granted, you acknowledged that in your own view the minister's avowed goal:

doesn't seem realistic to me, as i don't think a movement like hamas can be destroyed militarily without perpetrating some REAL massacres (you people do use that term rather lightly).

...but in any case. Substance. While I think there is a difference between the deliberate infliction of civilian casualties and so-called "collateral damage," I do not believe it to be a categorical one, merely a matter of placement on the spectrum of means and ends. The deliberate end of terrorist acts, in addition to spreading fear and chaos, is the slaughter of innocent life. If you undertake a bombing campaign against a hostile enemy, but this involves killing innocent people along the way, then the innocent are indirect means to that end. These are not precisely morally equivalent: the one is done with deliberate intention and the other with explicit foreknowledge. But to say that "collateral damage" is "not intentional" seems to me a non-starter as a justification: it is done with foreknowledge of its cost and engaged in anyway. To will an end is ipso facto to will the means to it.

adam, thanks for your carefully considered involvement in this issue. i'm not trying to be a "nudnik" and i really am interested in what intelligent people who are not directly involved in our conflict have to say. sometimes i think 1gm readers refrain from responding to me on this this issue so as not to encourage me to "blah blah" and "dominate" a conversation that no one is really interested in having. your points are very strong,and hopefully ameliorate any perceptions of my "domination". they also address the larger, philosophical issues which, i must admit, are my real interest.

i wanted to talk about this point:

To will an end is ipso facto to will the means to it.

no argument from me, that's a perfectly reasonable piece of logic. i would suggest, however, that, while collateral damage is certainly to be expected in any use of such airpower against a population innocent of an air force or even anti-aircraft capability (i shiver to think of the evil implied in such a description, but this too is a "fact"), it (collateral damage) does not fall into the category of "means to an end", as the terroristic use of rockets and morters by hamas does. in fact, it is clear to both the idf and anyone observing their actions here that "collateral damage", while expected due to the sheer scale of such activities in densly populated areas (again, a battlefield chosen by hamas for purely political reasons) is something to be avoided, if at all possible and at all costs (including israeli civilian lives, but not the lives of soldiers and pilots). this may have nothing whatever to do with morality or mercy, it may be completely a political consideration, but it is nonetheless a fact.

on the other side of the equation, the death of israeli noncombatants is actually the goal of hamas's activities.

so, i think that your point, while perhaps mathematically correct, and also correct in terms of "death is death, no matter what the intention", is lacking in actual truth. and what is the truth?

that the character and intentions of the attackers DO matter. so if your point is that they don't matter, i humbly beg to differ.

I'd written a response to your earlier post that said -- essentially -- "we don't agree on much other than your last paragraph, so let's just leave it at that", but my notebook ran out of power and I lost the posting.

Then I noticed that you'd posted this, and I'd have to say that we're probably in 70-80% agreement on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The main difference is that you see a two-state solution as a possibility. When I spent 3 weeks in Israel and the West Bank in October and November, I saw how remote a possibility this really is. Fatah is corrupt and incompetent, and seems primarily interested in it's own wealth. Hamas is ideologically and religiously extremist, (and probably corrupt too), but provides some form of national pride voice to the Palestinians that Fatah does not. And to my eyes, Israel looks like it's in the middle of a 100 year plan to establish itself as a purely Jewish state based on Biblical boundries, and through its actions, practices a slow form of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

I think we agree that both sides (Israelis "moderates" and Palestinians) have adopted a siege mentality. The difference is that Israel, because of it's own paranoia regarding it's neighbors' motivations, imposes the siege mentality on itself.

This is, after all, a country with 200 nuclear weapons, a highly trained and highly weaponed military and steadfast support from the United States. The adopting of a siege mentality because of a bunch of criminal/terrorist actions seems as foolish to me as to consider the US to be seriously threatened by Al Qaeda.

Now, I do understand the mentality. After all, I saw our own national insanity in reacting to 9-11 as an act of war, not an act of crime. But that doesn't justify their actions in Gaza, any more than America's fear mentality justified our invasion into Iraq that has caused the deaths of something like a million people.

Recently, I finished reading Sandy Tolan's The Lemon Tree, which to me anyway, represented the closest thing to a balanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian history. By focusing on the lives of a daughter of Holocaust survivors and the son of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Independence, Tolan provides a good backdrop of the conflict from a long term perspective. Jonathan, I'll be happy to send you (or Norm) my copy (at my expense) if you express interest. Please you contact me through email if you want me to sent it to you.

Peace.

well, uubuntu, we may agree even more than you think. it seems that my explanation of the two state solution and how important it is to various world governments, including israel's (but not hamas's) led you to believe that i support the idea, even though i said i didn't.

this is a little complicated, but not really: i would support the idea, if i thought it had a hope in hell of succeeding, but i don't. like you, i think it's too late for that. still, i keep hoping, since the alternative is essentially eternal war. but even this (in my view) is better than a judenrien israel, which is what hamas wants.

now to explain how eternal war could be better than a judenrein israel, i'd have to get into issues that for the purposes of this blog would be considered essentially mystical- and i am not willing to subject good, solid, atheistic citizens to such gobbledygook. :)

oh, and about the book: i've been meaning to read it for a long time, and your recommendation merely cemented my resolve. thanks for your generous offer, but jerusalem has plenty of used bookstores, and i'm not homeless (yet).

I didn't realize you were in Jerusalem (which shows my American provincialism). I was there for the first time last month, and would love to have talked with you as part of my learning process.

I think the positions that Hamas expresses ("no Jewish state of Israel") is not the same as a Judenrein (I had to look up that word) state of Palestine. It may be due to the fact that I'm American, but I never got the sense from any Palestinian in the West Bank that I met (and I met many) of the desire to ethnically cleanse Palestine of Jews that you describe. On the other hand, I got a VERY good sense of a desire to ethnically cleanse ALL of Israel of "dirty Arab foreigners" when casually talking with two Jewish settlers on the top of Masada near the end of my trip. That conversation was scarier than anything I'd had with any Palestinian Arab, and I'd talked with two different Hamas politicians during this trip and countless "men on the street" in Ramallah and Hebron.

Now, I'll certainly admit that it's unlikely that a Palestinian would reveal overt anti-Jewish sentiments to an American, even one who expresses sympathy with his plight, but the expression of fear of extermination on the part of many Israeli Jews rings very similar to my ears as the fear of extermination on the part of many white South Africans 30 years ago. Like the expressed views of black South Africans of that time, the Palestinians showed none of the hatred of which they're accused of holding. The did express many of the same frustrations as the South Africans of being a people forced to live under changing and conflicting rules that were inconsistently applied.

I'll admit that today's Hamas is not the same as the ANC of the 1960s and 70s. I'll also admit to knowing a LOT more about the South African struggle than I do about the Palestinian struggle. But the descriptions of the ANC at that time, "a banned Communist and terrorist organization whose goal is nothing short of establishing black superiority" sounds awfully familiar, and similar to descriptions of Fatah/the PLO 20 years ago and Hamas today. It's almost as if the desriptions don't change, only the organizations do.

As a resident of Jerusalem, I have no doubt that you are better informed than I am about the current state of your country's situation, economically, politically socially, and militarily than I could hope to understand in the few weeks I spent in the land. It just seems like the fear of annihilation impairs the Israeli people's ability to see that Israel could be secular state with guaranteed rights of religious freedom for all citizens, which would guarantee it's non-Judenrien status forever. Instead, Israel seems to pursue the goal of a two-tiered state that promotes Jewish privilege in its laws and its policies. This sense of second-class personhood generates resentment among the non-Jewish residents of the area, which leads to support organizations like Hamas.

In my pessimistic days, I see the lives of the Palestinian people in 100 years the same way that I see the lives of the Native American people today: living on squalid Bantustan reservations and running casinos, while the Jewish state of Israel runs "from the river to the sea", and the Israeli citizens still live in fear of their neighbors.

I saw this future with South Africa 30 years ago. I was wrong then. I hope I'm wrong now.

uubuntu, i too wish we had met while you were here. i'm really into symbolism and thought it very interesting that your conversation with the bigoted settlers took place at the top of masada. (!!) along these lines:

It just seems like the fear of annihilation impairs the Israeli people's ability to see that Israel could be secular state with guaranteed rights of religious freedom for all citizens, which would guarantee it's non-Judenrien status forever.

just so you know, in spite of israel's fear of annihilation affecting their ability to "see" (too true, too true), many of us, including many members and potential members of government, including even the hated likud party, and even parties farther to the right (yes they exist) see hope in the model that you mentioned. for an understanding of the main obstacle to such a possibility, google "palestinian right of return".

thanks for your thoughtful comments. if you plan to visit again, mention it on 1gm, or ask norm how to get in touch with me, and we'll get together. not all settlers are bigots. :)

oh, and this:

the Palestinians showed none of the hatred of which they're accused of holding. They did express many of the same frustrations as the South Africans of being a people forced to live under changing and conflicting rules that were inconsistently applied.

yeah, well dude, jewish israelis, and perhaps most people all over the world, have the same problem. :)

Sorry for any confusion. My post above was in response to Jonathan Becker's 12:23 AM post.

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