Israel and Gaza

Dahlia Lithwick: “What it’s like to be in Jerusalem as the conflict escalates”

It says so much about the state of our discourse that the surest way to enrage everyone is to tweet about peace in the Middle East. We should be doing better because, much as I hate to say it, the harrowing accounts of burnt-out basements and baby shoes on each side of this conflict don’t constitute a conversation. Counting and photographing and tweeting injured children on each side isn’t dialogue. Scoring your own side’s suffering is a powerful way to avoid fixing the real problems, and trust me when I tell you that everyone — absolutely everyone — is suffering and sad and yet being sad is not fixing the problems either.

Closed. And padlocked.

One good lesson I am learning this week is to shut up and listen. Because the only way to cut through the mutual agony here is to find people who have solutions and to hear what they have to say. Bombing the other side into oblivion is no more a solution than counting your dead children in public. The best thing about shutting up and listening? You eventually lose the impulse to speak.

… You want to hear about what it’s like here? It’s fucking sad. Everyone I know is sad. My kids don’t care who started it and the little boys in Issawiya, the Arab village I see out my window, don’t care much either. I haven’t met a single Israeli who is happy about this. They know this fixes nothing. The one thing we learned this week is how quickly humans can come to normalize anything. But the hopelessness seeps right into your bones as well.

Lara Aburamadan: “Trapped in Gaza”

Each day here lays bare the ugliness of war, and for my siblings and me, each scene of our movie starts the same: we are trapped. And that is where our story begins and ends.

Robert Wright: “Who Started the Israel-Gaza Conflict?”

So in Israel the question was how to respond to aggression from Gaza, and in Gaza the question was how to respond to aggression from Israel. And each side considered its own use of force — what the other side called provocation — a response to provocation.

Patrick S. O’Donnell has a collection of informative links on Israel & Gaza at Religious Left Law. So does Daniel Nexon at Duck of Minerva.

See also:

• Juan Cole: “Top Ten Myths About Israeli Attack on Gaza”

• Ruth Everhart: “Is Peace Hopeless? Pray Anyway”

  • GDwarf

    There are so many people, so many, who are obsessed with who started it, as if that matters all these decades on.

    I don’t care who started it. I don’t care who originally owned the land. The current owners should be those who were born and live there. Regardless of race, creed, allegiance, heritage, or anything else.

    But just making all Palestinians full Israeli citizens isn’t an option because, by now, the bad blood runs so deep and they outnumber the Jewish residents by so many, that the end result would probably be ugly indeed.

    So a big congratulations to both sides, who have managed to make an unwinnable situation. Short of both sides agreeing to permanently lay down arms and full citizenship being granted, I don’t see any resolution in sight.

    I do also wonder if the situation might not have been resolved, or at least be better, if the US wasn’t giving Israel the most powerful military in the region. Israel’s war hawks would be forced to temper their plans and maybe some actual peace could have arisen by now.

     

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I don’t know how to think about Gaza, and I don’t know how to feel about it.  It makes me heartsick, and has for as long as I can remember.

    I do like that first quote, though.

    I have family and friends who live in Israel; I hear their stories about their experiences. I have friends with Palestinian friends; I hear their stories about their experiences.

    I don’t know if listening to one another’s stories is enough to heal the crazy. I don’t think so. I don’t think anything is, really.

    That said, I don’t know anything else that’s nearly as powerful when it comes to bringing people together across a wide gulf.

    So… I guess it will have to do until something better comes along.

  • Lori

     

    I do also wonder if the situation might not have been resolved, or at
    least be better, if the US wasn’t giving Israel the most powerful
    military in the region. Israel’s war hawks would be forced to temper
    their plans and maybe some actual peace could have arisen by now.   

    Possible. It’s also possible that, absent their huge military they would have decided to take more drastic measures years ago. Hawks aren’t really famous for tempering their plans based on reality. The relative size of their military may be the only thing that’s keeping some of them from having a full-on freak out over the demographic issues they’re facing.

  • Leum

    It’s been a clusterfuck from the beginning, when the British made the abominably stupid decision to forcibly evict Palestinians rather than, for example, buying their land. I’m sympathetic to the desire for a Jewish state, and somewhat sympathetic to wanting to place it in the historical location of Israel and Judah, but the way that it was handled means that most of my sympathies are with the Palestinians.

    I don’t have an answer for what should be done. It would be impractical, inhumane, and hypocritical to say that the Israelis should leave*, and even a two-state solution has problems (the best farmland is in Israel and there’s a ton of water management issues). A one-state solution would be my ideal vision, but as GDwarf points out, that would probably have a bloody outcome.

    *Impractical both because of the logistics of relocating that many people and because it’s not easy to force people off their land, inhumane because Israel is where most Israelis were born and raised, it’s home, and hypocritical because I’m a US citizen who is not a Native American.

  • J_Enigma32

    Part of this problem is the Evangelical Right here in the United States. They seek to empower the Jewish Right, composed primarily of Orthodox/Haredi*  sects, with the intention of driving the Arabs out so that way they can continue playing out their little fantasy world where Jesus comes home once all of the MacGuffins have been collected and the hero casts the spell to bring him back, sacrificing children along the way. My understanding is that the average Jewish Israeli has a dim view of the Jewish Right, since so many Haredim are absolved from military service for religious reasons but have no problem throwing other people into the meat grinder of war for their own purposes.

    I’m not sure how much of the problem is the American Evangelical Right. I’m sure they’re a huge problem here since they hamper any peace talks, especially the public perception of them, and portray anything less than 110% agreement with anything that Israel does as being “Antisemitic” (a fine term for the spiritual children of Martin Luthor to be throwing around) and anti-Israel, and act like asking Israel to step back is tantamount to betraying this nation (Theocratic Realpolitik?).
     
    *I may be using the wrong word. If It’s not Haredim, then I think it’s Hassidic. It may actually be both, but the distinction, I think, is that one is all about Jewish Mysticism and is generally removed from society because of it, while the other is the most commonly associated sect with the religious right in Israel.

  • Ben English

    I’m just so disgusted with civilians being used as pawns in a war. Conservatives go on batshit rants about how all Muslims everywhere want to wipe Israel of the face of the Earth; Liberals, in their eagerness to protest the injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israel, gloss over the injustices inflicted by militant groups against their own people.

    I wish we could just remove civilians from the equation entirely, let them take an all-expenses paid vacation to Madagascar and then let the hawks and jihadists duke it out until they’re all fine red mist. I’m just so sick of innocent people being caught in the crossfire of thugs and bastards.

  • Hilary

    I hate it.  I hate it, and as an American Jew I am utterly heartsick about the whole fucking mess.  I hate Palestinian children being killed, living lives so limited, I hate that Israel so easily gets characterized by its worst military action and not the millions of people there who are trying to live a normal life. I just hate the whole fucking everything about that damned fuck up.  I hate how totally imcompatable Israeli right wing politics are to the Judaism I love.  I hate the thought that if the situations were reveresed, and it was Jews being occupied and Palestinians doing the occupying, there would be nothing left of any Jewish existance in that land.  The reason the body count is so lop sided isn’t for lack of effort or desire on the part of Hamas. 

    Why can’t Hamas just. fucking. stop. firing. rockets?!?!?!?! What does it gain them?

    If there is any reason to hope it is these people

    http://www.theparentscircle.org/

    If these people can stop hating each other and see the other as another greiving parent instead of an enemy, it’s the only thing I can see making any fucking difference.

    Why both sides can’t just knock the fuck off and stop it  . . . .

    I don’t know what to say or what the answer is or how to stop it, but I fucking hate it.

    Hilary

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Why can’t Hamas just. fucking. stop. firing. rockets?!?!?!?! What does it gain them?

    Part of the problem with Hamas, and other similar groups, is that there is little real organization among them. There is no central authority that can really bring them into lockstep. To the extent that it does have a central leadership, that is merely symbolic, and carries no real authority (the devotion is to a particular ideology rather than a particular power.) 

    Where this gets really hairy is when it involves militancy. All it takes is one person too driven by zeal to make an attack, and others follow suit because “oh crap, nothing to it now, fire!” Soon you get the targets retaliating, and more people joining the cause on the basis that if they are doomed if they do and doomed if they do not. 

    With such loose ideological organizations, there is no way for them to actually end a conflict. There is no “win”, no “lose”, and even a cease-fire is only enforceable as long as no one goes off all half-cocked and breaks it.

  • Albanaeon

     I think that Hamas firing rockets is an easy way of showing that they are doing *something* about the situation, even if its counterproductive.  And with how desperate the Palestinians are, it isn’t surprising that some support it.  Extreme actions breed extreme reactions.

    I have to say that I honestly empathize with the Palestinians here more than Israel, just because of how extreme the power imbalance is.  Only one of these player has the power to wipe out the other right now, and its not the occupied.  Still, no-one should live under the threat of death from the skies and the sooner we all accept that as a basic right, the better.*

    *Yes, I am talking about our own drone strikes here.

  • Tehanu

    Gdwarf:  “I don’t care who started it.”  I’ve been saying this for years.  I majored in history but now I think Sting’s song has it right: History will teach us nothing.  Wipe it all clean, start from where people are now, not who “started it” — get out of moral kindergarten.  And yes, I know that’s not likely because there are too many people wedded to their own self-righteousness and vengefulness.  But otherwise it seems to me there’s no hope at all.

  • David Starner

     @Leum: The Palestinians usually didn’t own the land from what I understand; they were mostly sharecroppers on land owned by Ottoman absentee landlords. As such, when Zionists did buy land in Palestine, it often didn’t help anything; they were still intruders evicting Palestinians off their land.

  • Kiwibrit

    I wish I knew the answer but I don’t. But like Albanaeon I tend to sympathise with the Palestinians. Israel holds all the cards, they are the local “super power” and can defeat all their neighbours if it came to war. Yes Hamas should stop launching rockets into Israel.
    When you look at it Gaza is just one very large prison with 1.7million imates. All the border crossing are controlled by Israel the sea around Gaza is controlled by the Israeli navy. To be blunt Gaza is one very big Ghetto so is it any surprise when those trapped inside rebel? Most of the time the world just shrugs its shoulders and ignores what is going on. Until Hamas fires rockets into Israel and Israel hits back with over whelming force 110 Palestinians dead to 3 Israeli the figures speak for themselves. Yes these people need to learn to live side by side in peace but for that to happen there needs to be justice and for that to happen Israel needs to change its right wing policies. Just look at the settlements that are still being built on the West Bank further eroding what little land the Palestinians have. We then wonder why they hit back with violence what other choice do they have?

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Why can’t Hamas just. fucking. stop. firing. rockets?!?!?!?! What does it gain them?

    Hardliners on both sides in any conflict are always happy when things heat up, when the other side can be provoked into retaliating – it means more power for them as the tribal response is to gather around.

    So when the Palestinians are fed up with the corrupt and bad job of actual administration the Hamas are doing – fire a few rockets at Israel and presto, everybody is angry at the Israelis and forgets the corruption.

    I hope a very advanced solution might help: a true Star Wars net where every rocket fired at Israel is detected and shot down automatically, so that Israel can stop being provoked by any idiot with a tube launcher because they are safe.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    When you look at it Gaza is just one very large prison with 1.7million
    imates. All the border crossing are controlled by Israel the sea around
    Gaza is controlled by the Israeli navy. To be blunt Gaza is one very big
    Ghetto so is it any surprise when those trapped inside rebel?

    It’s also stupid because the official reason given by the Israeli govt. for limiting things like concrete (for rebuilding the houses destroyed by Israeli mortars and rockets) because they don’t want Hamas to build tunnels. In reality Hamas already has tunnels to Egypt for supplies and charges the Palestinian civilians high smuggling tax.

    So if Israel took a counter-intiuitve step and started bringing in their soldiers to repair / build new houses and allowed open trade, they could not only win hearts and minds, they could also help establish some small prosperity for the Palestinian civilians, which would promote peace. People who have something to loose are far less willing to follow radicals than people who have nothing to lose and no other way to gain anything.

  • Münchner Kindl

     South Africa and other countries were wise in appointing “Truth and reconciliation” commission and giving amnesties to both sides who had committed atrocities. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It doesn’t matter anymore who stole land from whom, only to solve it for peace now.

  • D9000

    The trouble is, the extremists (and the extremists in Israel are gaining influence daily) don’t want peace, they want victory. I think the only chance of a lasting peace is if both sides are frightened into it, but that would mean everybody else on the sidelines agreeing with each other, which doesn’t, at current prices, seem likely.

    I’ve never been a fan of Israel, of wholly Jewish descent though I be. A place for Jews to live free of oppression? Fine. A Jewish state for Jewish people, not so much. And certainly not there. I often wonder if we would all be better off if Zionism had developed sixty or seventy years earlier, and they adopted the Mormon solution to the problem, and there was a nice little state of Judah out in the Midwest somewhere. (Bit rough on the native inhabitants, I know, but lesser of evils and all that). Too late now.

  • GuestPoster

    That’s my thoughts exactly.  Nothing excuses what Hamas does.  But then, Israel is the direct cause, and the fact that what Hamas does is wrong doesn’t change that either, does it?

    I see a lot of people comparing how Israel specifically avoids civilian casualties (I guess telling people they have 10 seconds to vacate the country via borders they are not allowed to cross counts as trying to save them) while Hamas directly terrorizes civilians.  But then…  Israel doesn’t allow adequate food or building supplies in.  It doesn’t allow the people much freedom, it doesn’t allow trade such that a decent economy could be built…  Israel terrorizes those people, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They’re fighting back in the only way they can.
    Both sides are at fault.  But one side holds almost all the power.  It really is contingent upon Israel to restore human rights, withdraw to legally recognized boundaries, and start obeying UN resolutions.  Israel has the power to end the whole problem overnight.  But it won’t, because having an enemy is politically valuable.

    If Canada marched into the US, took all our weapons, all our lumber and masonry materials, razed our crops and denied us access to seeds or whole foods, and blockaded all routes of trade or departure…  do you really think those in America would hold off for terribly long attacking Canadian population centers, knowing they couldn’t make a dent in the Canadian military, and that there was exactly zero choices left except to bend over and take it?

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    Every year, my family has a Seder. Every year, they tell the story of a man who said, “Let my people go.” Every year we are retaught the lesson that so long as one person is enslaved, none of us are free.

    And every year I wonder how Jews became the oppressors.  

  • AnonaMiss

    I disagree that it doesn’t matter who started it. I think it matters who started it a great deal, because in order for there to be peace, there needs to be forgiveness and grace. And when was the last time you wanted to extend forgiveness and grace to someone you thought had wronged you, who then said “It doesn’t matter who started it”?

    My sympathy lies almost entirely with the Palestineans. Israel is an occupying force installed by a colonial power. Ultimately the British & allies are to blame, but current-generation Israelis need to stand and acknowledge their privilege and how they and their ancestors have used it to hurt the Palestinean people.

    Palestine has nothing to apologize for. They are an occupied people living in horrible poverty under a heavily-armed colonial power. They have no representation, no freedom of movement, no resources, no way to better themselves or escape their situation except to fight.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Israelis should get out of Palestine – as Leum notes, it’s where they grew up, it’s their home now – but they need to get the fuck off their high horses and approach Palestine with heads bowed, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation. They need to set them free. They need to offer their help. They need to give Palestine representation, and honor, and respect.

    That’s the only possible path I see that doesn’t end in genocide.

  • Ursula L

    Why can’t Hamas just. fucking. stop. firing. rockets?!?!?!?! What does it gain them?

    Because the alternative, for them, is to starve quietly as the world ignores the blockade. The rockets are not the most effective way to fight the blockade, but it is the most effective way they have.  

    Without the rockets, the problems of Gaza would not be international news.  And there would be less pressure on Israel to stop the blockade, which is doing far more damage than the rockets.  

    Warfare can kill without bombs and guns.  Siege has been a way of waging war for centuries.  (E.g., countless battles in the Germanies in the 30 Year War,  Leningrad, WWII.)  It’s dishonest to claim that blockade and siege aren’t just as much weapons of war as guns and bombs.

    The combination of strictly limiting the types of goods let in, slowing permitted goods to a  trickle because the movement of goods is slowed by the process of searches before being let through the blockade, the collapse of trade within the blockaded area, so that people aren’t working, and money isn’t moving, so many people can’t buy what goods are there, kills.  Starvation, malnutrition,  vulnerability to disease, and limited ability to treat injury and disease.  And it is quite easy to make a point of “easing” a blockade, while still keeping it tight enough to ensure endemic malnutrition and disease.  

  • Ursula L

     Scoring your own side’s suffering is a powerful way to avoid fixing the real problems, and trust me when I tell you that everyone — absolutely everyone — is suffering and sad and yet being sad is not fixing the problems either.

    And this type of argument is a really clever way to try and distract people from the fact that the damage you’re doing to the other side is orders of magnitude worse than what they are capable of doing to you.  Ignoring power disparities further empowers those who are already powerful.  

  • Nequam

    Nina Paley nailed it pretty well,  I think:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-evIyrrjTTY

  • DavidCheatham

    Why can’t Hamas just. fucking. stop. firing. rockets?!?!?!?! What does it gain them?

    There is exactly one behavior by either side in this conflict that is not justifiable by anything, and it’s not firing rockets, and it’s not Hamas doing it.

    Why is Hamas firing rockets? Because Israel bombs them. Why is Israel bombing them? Because Hamas fires rockets. Why are they shooting at each other near borders? Because the other side is shooting near a border. All ‘justified’ in some manner in a nonsensical debate that cannot be won about who was ‘first’.Why is Israel building settlements?

    *crickets chirp*

    Everything else can be _vaguely_ justified under some sort of ‘war’ premise. (Although I will point out that Israel _occupies_ Gaza and thus cannot be at ‘war’ with them.) Even blocking the relief ships  is justified under a paper-thin claim of weapon smuggling.  This is not actually true, weapons come in via border tunnels, but Israel can at least make that justification.

    Building settlements has _no_ justification. It doesn’t make things more secure, in fact, it does the opposite. It is not legal, under any laws of war or any treaty or _anything_.

    There are all sorts of forms of defense, and while I personally think most conflicts in the past decade or so in that area have been due to overreactions and attempting to ‘punish’ Palestinians on the part of Israel….I am willing to consider the idea it is some sort of general ‘self-defense’ argument, where it is, at worst, a war being fought poorly and accidentally killing innocent civilians.

    But there is one behavior of Israel, building settlements, that cannot _ conceivable_ be in any sort of self-defense, and appears to exist to a) piss Palestinians off and b) make illegitimate claims to things Israel does not own. (Which is generally called ‘theft’.)

  • aunursa

    Let’s understand what the precipitating event here that’s causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.

    …Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory. If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable. It’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It’s also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.

    - Evangelical Right Wing Haredi Likudnik Oppressive Chickenhawk-in-Chief

  • Launcifer

    And your point is what, precisely? That every President you people have ever elected is a complete and hypocritical tool when it comes to this particular area of the universe?
     
     
     

  • Ursula L

    And frankly, the US, having spent the past few decades insisting that it is Israel’s best ally, is in no way objective in how it is treating this situation.  

    In addition, the US has been favoring the methods of war that focus on restricting access to the supplies of life, through siege, blockade, and the now fashionable term “economic sanctions” so it is in the US’s interest to ignore when Israel wages war using those tools, and treat reaction to those acts of war as if it is unprovoked aggression.  Because doing so reinforces the US’s claim that it isn’t waging war when it engages in those tactics.  

  • AnonaMiss

    I don’t know that I would consider economic sanctions in the same category as siege or blockade. If I understand correctly, economic sanctions generally means “We won’t trade with you, and a bunch of our friends have agreed they won’t either.” There’s no such thing as a unilateral economic sanction. Countries not in on the sanction can still trade, and though they might face political pressure from the sanctioners, the sanctioners do not (as far as I know) physically try to prevent trade. If I’m wrong, please correct me.

    Whereas a blockade can be done unilaterally, and prevents trade even from willing partners who disagree with the blockade.

    So as I see it, economic sanctions:blockade as a vegetarian movement:surrounding a slaughterhouse and confiscating animals to be slaughtered & meat products at gunpoint.

  • AnonaMiss

    So as far as I can tell, aunursa, you’re not denying that the metaphorical man locked a dog in a cage, starved it, beat it, and let it fester in its own filth; you only claim that its most recent bite was severe enough that the man is in his rights to whip it again.

    Good to know where your priorities are.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     I don’t agree at all. Pumpkin pie is vastly superior to cherry pie.

  • Lori

    The depends entirely on the pumpkin and cherry pies in question. For example, my mom’s pumpkin is superior to cherry with gobs of overly sweet filling and mushy cherries. However, a really good cherry pie is tough to beat, even for mom’s pumpkin.

    The nice thing is that we never really have to choose since the two pies are seasonal at different times of the year.

  • AnonaMiss

    Oh jeez, I’m a dumbass; I completely glazed over the fact that it was an Obama quote. So rather than actually taking a stance yourself, your post was intended to say either, “Well look at who you all voted into office! Looks like you screwed yourselves over”; “Even Obama says Israel is in the right – and we all know what a liberal anti-Israel dude he is – so it must be true”; or “Obama says it, shouldn’t you be agreeing with him?”

    Let me know if I missed the possibility you meant so I can answer it, but responses to these possibilities, in order:

    a) There was no pro-Palestine/anti-Israel candidate viable this election, and there’s no reason to believe Romney would be less gung-ho Israel than Obama, given that that’s a Republican shibboleth;

    b) You’ve indicated before that you think Obama or the Obama administration is somehow anti-Israel, and I’ve tried to engage you on it before, but you never gave any evidence to support your position. This is just further evidence that the Obama administration is in fact pro-Israel, not “Even an anti-Israel guy says it, so it must be true!”

    c) You’ve hung around here long enough that you should know many of the commentariat here disagree with Obama about many things, including but not limited to, insufficient handling of the banking crisis, drones, immigration, and yes, Israel. The reason we supported Obama over Romney is that the Republican party disagrees with Obama in ways that are even further removed from our/their druthers.

    It would sure be a lot nicer if you’d come out and say which way you intended to insult us, instead of passive-aggressively dropping links from which we are to draw our own conclusions about your intentions.

    And if you didn’t intend to insult us, fucking say so. You’d be a lot more welcome around here if you dropped your links with at least a hint of “I’d like to know what you guys think about Obama’s position on this, because it seems out of line with what you’re saying and what I’ve heard many liberals say.”

  • AnonymousSam

    “How” would seem to be “when they decided God was really keen on the idea.”

    “When” is even better: “Immediately after escaping Pharaoh.”

    Exodus is the worst book in the Bible.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     The really great thing about the Seder is that it isn’t purporting to teach history, at least not in my house. Its telling a story. And stories change when the people telling it change. So no need to try to prop up the uglier parts of the Bible as legitimate moral precepts.

  • Tricksterson

    Have you read The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon?  It’s fiction but still an interesting look at how that might have turned out.

  • Tricksterson

    DIE HEATHEN!

  • AnonymousSam

    It still remains a terrible story, but that’s an indictment one could levy against quite a lot of Abrahamic scripture (a phrase I immediately realized I should have used instead of “the Bible”). Still, it hurts in a deep way to think that anyone would think that the first course of action once escaping from slavery would be to start plundering, pillaging, enslaving and raping. And then to make matters worse, the priest class rapidly sets up a wonderful protection racket where the threat is that God will apply the plagues to anyone failing to make the required sacrifices of food, flour and gold to the priests.

    One sees this, and… yeah, it feels like some people learned this as a moral lesson verbatim.

  • AnonaMiss

    Still, it hurts in a deep way to think that anyone would think that the first course of action once escaping from slavery would be to start plundering, pillaging, enslaving and raping.

    Hey Sam – please forgive me if this is too personal or too forward and feel free not to answer. Could you elaborate on how it hurts you? I was under the impression that as a sociopath you lacked a feeling-based empathy and had to make up for it intellectually. Or is it a spectrum thing?

  • Ursula L

    “We won’t trade with you, and a bunch of our friends have agreed they won’t either.” There’s no such thing as a unilateral economic sanction. Countries not in on the sanction can still trade, and though they might face political pressure from the sanctioners, the sanctioners do not (as far as I know) physically try to prevent trade. If I’m wrong, please correct me.

    Trade sanctions are generally done by groups of nations, rather than unilaterally. But that really doesn’t matter, one way or the other.  War waged by a coalition allied against you is as bad or worse as war waged by a single enemy.  

    It doesn’t change the war-level effects that sanctions can have on a nation, effects as severe as any siege by a surrounding army. 

    If you can’t get food and medicine because your enemy is blocking your border it has the exact same effect as if you can’t get food and medicine because your enemy has organized international trade sanctions that prevent you from selling your surplus resources (e.g., oil) and using the money to buy food and medicine necessary for life.

    Either way, people are suffering and dying for lack of food and medicine, a lack deliberately orchestrated by their enemies. 

    Arranging the starvation and lack of medical care through sanctions rather than a siege or blockade is a fig-leaf for the attacker, not a comfort or relief to those attacked.  

    Either way, people will starve, deficiency and contagious disease will spread, people will die.  And the poorest and weakest will be hit the worst, while the powerful and the rich monopolize what resources are available.  

    If the effect on those attacked is the same, than the details of how the attackers organize the attack are quite irrelevant to the morality of the effects they are deliberately creating.  

  • Madhabmatics

    In addition to what FearlessSon said, Hamas is not the only militant group in the area and contrary to what the name implies, “Qassam” rockets are literally build with scrap and shit and sugar. They’re basically Alabama good ol’ boy rockets that a person could make with stuff left over from a barn raising, so literally anyone can make one in their spare time.

    (Just another way Arabs/Palestinians and Rednecks are secretly kin: See eating okra, family honor, and muddin’)

    Hamas related ceasefires have actually worked in the past (notably before operation Cast Lead in 2008) but it didn’t stop *all* rocket attacks, there still end up being a few. The problem is that in the cease-fire agreements, enforcement for stopping all launching of home-made shit rockets from Gaza rests solely on the hands of Hamas – including organizations that are against Hamas, of which there are a ton. (They are frequently seen as soft on Israel because of said cease-fire agreements.)

    Now, this might be feasible if we were talking about a country with a modern police force. But every Operation: Cast Lead-alike specifically sets out to destroy infrastructure, and, well, expecting a single organization to police a decent size area while looking for nefarious bomb-making ingredients like “Sugar” would be rough in a real country where they HAD the infrastructure to deal with that.

    (This is also why they kill so few people – they don’t have an aiming system, you literally just prop them up on another piece of metal and hope they go in the direction you are pointing without swerving.)

    In addition, what Albaneon is sayin’ – there’s definitely a pattern here. When you have elections in Gaza you see attacks go up because no one is going to vote for a party that goes “lol yeah the situation is fine you can totally trust Israel to let people ship food to us now.” On the other hand, Operation Cast Lead happened before Israel’s 2008 election and this years conflict magically also started up right before the major election, hmmmmmm.

    Israel is having a ton of domestic issues that aren’t mainly about Gaza at the moment – 2011 had some huge protests about them, and the people that are worried about these things don’t favor the current government. It’s to their advantage to have a boogeyman that they can point at and say, “Vote for us, they are going to kill us all and only we have the nerve to stop them.” Same for Hamas – Every time Israel shakes their fists and goes “Hamas is evil and is a threat to Israel, we must destroy them all” Hamas gets to turn around and go “See? We actually have a chance of getting something done, Israel ignores all other groups and only deals with us.”

    Then both sides go back and sign treaties with each other to bring things to a simmer until it’s time to make sure the existing power structures need to be maintained.

  • AnonymousSam

    Let’s see if I can adequately clarify this… it’s a challenge, since it’s hard for me to really describe the way I feel things, having nothing to which I can compare it. I have to draw on the language I see others use while feeling that it’s inadequate to describe what I actually experience.

    I do lack a feeling-based empathy as I understand the concept. If something bad happens to someone, I can recognize that it’s happened and why, to them and the people related to them, that it’s a bad thing. I can easily make the theory-of-mind leap of “if this happened to me, it would be bad too, even though it hasn’t.” It’s just very dissociated from myself, and I have to remind myself (often repeatedly) that recognition of the issue on an intellectual level doesn’t mean it has been adequately addressed by everyone else. I tend not to dwell on things because I lack that personal connection to them — which means I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of acting like an insensitive jerkass because I’ve stopped making sympathetic noises too soon.

    I do have emotions, but in general, they don’t seem to reach extremes as often as other people experience them. When they do trigger — ouch. I actually prefer them not to, and that includes for positives as well as negatives. When I’m (here’s that inadequate language) “happy,” I know that it’s just a matter of time before the feeling goes away, and that kind of descent is always hard and has a tendency to drop right into the negatives (“I”m angry because I’m not happy anymore”). My day to day state is one I’d just label as “content to live in the moment.” If nothing bad is actively happening, then I generally just feel “mellow.” I’d tentatively label this as a positive to differentiate it from “hollow and empty,” if only because, this being my most common emotional state, it’s also the most comfortable.

    With regards to a situation like this or what is described in Exodus, though, it’s moving on a variety of levels. With my philosophy of everyone being in it together, political strife is aggravating enough (and I have to keep my ethnocentric perspective in check — “Why are they voting this way when they should know that’s wrong?”), but something as complex and mired as political-religious-cultural warfare? I feel like it does affect me, personally. It’s not just an abstract or intellectual concept, it’s a change to the world I live in which affects the way people may react on a day to day basis, which may very well result in making life more difficult.

    It’s also a demonstration of the potential futility of my beliefs. When I’ve combated my sociopathy by building a belief system in which I’m not allowed to be a sociopath, to be given evidence of the most visceral and hate-forged examples of humans being utterly incapable of understanding that mutual cooperation is vital to better functionality is like being shown that life has no meaning. It’s a call to nihilism: “Why bother holding back? It’s not like your being or not-being a horrible monster can make the slightest bit of difference in the end.” That hurts, because I don’t even like to imagine the possibility that I could be wrong and life really is about who can come out on top and how the fittest survive by taking what they want from whoever they can dominate.

    Which… *Sighs* I can appreciate probably sounds like an extremely egocentrical way of viewing this conflict. “Oh no, people killing each other makes me look like an optimistic ninny! Hopefully they stop so I can feel better about myself!” But that’s just how it affects me personally. I’m not there. It’s still an abstract piece of information, disconnected from me or anyone I know. On a practical level, I want it to stop because, ethnocentrically again, I can’t understand why people would let it ever reach this point. Someone needs food? Feed them! Don’t starve them until they must resort to stealing it, or killing those who stop them from having it! Isn’t life difficult enough as it is without creating enemies to make it even harder?

    Sorry, I gave you a bit of a book here and I’m not even sure I fully answered your questions. :

  • aunursa

    AnonaMiss:
    1. If I intend to insult you, you won’t have to guess, because I won’t hint at it. I’ll make it plainly clear.
    2. I don’t recall saying that President Obama was anti-Israel.  Either my memory is faulty, or you have me confused with someone else. (Or perhaps you are applying my statements about President Obama’s positions on other issues to this issue.)
    3. If I need to recite the quote that you attribute to me in your last paragraph in order for you to understand, because it’s not already obvious, then I agree with you: >>insult>>Yes – you are a dumbass.<<insult<<

  • D9000

    I was recommended that the other day, and it’s on the to-read list, but from what I know of it I think I’ll need to be feeling more cheerful and optimistic before I tackle it. (I really need fluff to read, the heavy stuff is bringing me down, man. Time to break out the Wodehouse).

  • AnonaMiss

    In a previous thread, you gave as one of the reasons you were voting for Romney over Obama that he was pro-Israel, which implied to me that you believed Obama was not pro-Israel. 

    Also, do you honestly think that politeness and acknowledgement of other people’s positions exist to clarify meaning? Because they’re meant to clarify tone and demonstrate respect. Have you honestly been baffled all this time over why we’re hostile to your drive-by linking to polls or whatever? Believe it or not, it’s not because we hate being contradicted. It’s because you don’t bother to engage us as people, and often don’t bother to engage what’s actually been said in the OP. 

    On the internet as in real life, when someone cites a source to me without acknowledging what has been said in the conversation previously or at the least including the header/footer of inquiring as to my opinion, I will interpret that as something they considers a knock-down argument, a conversation-ender, something that proves the other person so wrong that there’s no point in addressing them. Judging by other commenters’ reactions to you, I suspect many of the commentariat here interpret your drive-bys the same way.

    In human communication as in computer communication, protocols are important. Headers and footers contain metadata about how the data package is intended to be processed, and without the headers and footers, the packet will usually be rejected. Don’t call the router a dumbass because you left out the destination IP.

  • AnonaMiss

    Thank you very much Sam! I did appreciate the book. It wasn’t really a question that can be fully answered – I just wanted to hear your thoughts on your perspective, and it was very enlightening.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I’ve never been a fan of Israel, of wholly Jewish descent though I be. A
    place for Jews to live free of oppression? Fine. A Jewish state for
    Jewish people, not so much. And certainly not there. I often wonder if
    we would all be better off if Zionism had developed sixty or seventy
    years earlier, and they adopted the Mormon solution to the problem, and
    there was a nice little state of Judah out in the Midwest somewhere.
    (Bit rough on the native inhabitants, I know, but lesser of evils and
    all that). Too late now.

    “Bit rough on the native inhabitants”? This sounds dangerously close to “We’d be better off if this had happened seventy years earlier back when the international community allowed everyone one free round of ethnic cleansing when they occupied a new territory.”

    (Back in the day, there was a commenter here who said almost exactly this: that the traditional solution to the problem in Gaza is a round of ethnic cleansing, and it’s Israel’s bad luck that they weren’t founded until after it was no longer socially acceptable to do that. Only he framed it as “It’s anti-semitic that the *Jewish* state doesn’t get to do ethnic cleansing when all the OTHER countries that were founded by  a new people forcibly occupying an already-occupied region got to do it.”)

  • D9000

    Yeah, because I was totally advocating the genocide of Native Americans.  Us Jews wouldn’t even have had to do it, because all the Europeans who came before us would have done it for us! How to have a Jewish state with hardly no guilt at all! Win all round! Now, when were you politically correct American liberals planning on giving up your homeland to the Injuns, eh? What, you’re not? You’re just going to wring your hands with a bit of faux guilt and then get back to more important leftist shibboleths like how bad and awful Israel is? You don’t say. 

    I should have stuck to my rule, ‘never discuss Israel with goyim’. It never ends well. Yeah, I know, I’m an evil Zionist and I’m out of here.

  • AnonaMiss

    Wait, when did opposition to Israel become a leftist shibboleth? Because I was honestly astonished to find so many anti-Israel people in this comments section. I only had my eyes opened by being good friends with a number of Turkish exchange students in college.

    As for the rest of your little rant, I’ve had a long day and I’m not in the mood, so I’ll leave it at “Clearly because people a hundred years ago thought ghettoization was OK we should give Israel a pass on it in the present day.” Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, because the door is actually worth something.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I’m a little too inebriated to contribute but glad to see this issue being broched however you spell it.  for now I will just lamely offer two bits of net info

    http://www.aldeilis.net/english/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=108:the-founding-of-jerusalem&catid=134:the-question-of-jerusalem&Itemid=355

    THE FOUNDING OF JERUSALEM(Excerpts from Henry Cattan, The Palestine Question, pp. 247-250)This describes the very beginings or as far back as we know about Jerusalem up until Zionism in a succint fashion.  essentially, it had been mostly aran for about 18 centuries before European Jews started to return. FYI I’m an America Firster not a pro israel or pro Palestinian guy.

    Also, http://www.amazon.com/Jerusalem-1913-Origins-Arab-Israeli-Conflict/dp/0143113283

    This is the best book I’ve read on the conflict.Okay back to OE

  • Madhabmatics

    yeah man it’s totally the race of the people you are talking with that is the common factor with your discussions going wrong. It must be because they are racially impure goy. Right on.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Wait, when did opposition to Israel become a leftist shibboleth? Because
    I was honestly astonished to find so many anti-Israel people in this
    comments section. I only had my eyes opened by being good friends with a
    number of Turkish exchange students in college.

    I know I’ve been a leftist longer than I understood the concwept, but I still have a loud voice in my head that shouts “Nazi!” at me if I even think of suggesting that Israel is not totally in the right in everything they do at all times.


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