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Old 01-09-2009, 05:52 PM   #331
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How many more do I need before it becomes an accurate generalization? If Israel can't have civilian casualties then they can't destroy Hamas terrorists or ammunition because of the chance of casualties is going to be great. This makes Israel handcuffed. They would be forced into inaction. This is my impression.
Just give up and admit it was a stupid generalization. Just try and make your points without the horrible partisan generalizations, maybe people will start to take you more seriously.
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:29 PM   #332
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Thus the latest ceasefire ended when Israel first killed Palestinians, and Palestinians then fired rockets into Israel. However, before attempting to glean lessons from this event, we need to know if this case is atypical, or if it reflects a systematic pattern.

We decided to tally the data to find out. We analyzed the entire timeline of killings of Palestinians by Israelis, and killings of Israelis by Palestinians, in the Second Intifada, based on the data from the widely-respected Israeli Human Rights group B'Tselem (including all the data from September 2000 to October 2008).

We defined "conflict pauses" as periods of one or more days when no one is killed on either side, and we asked which side kills first after conflict pauses of different durations. As shown in Figure 2, this analysis shows that it is overwhelmingly Israel that kills first after a pause in the conflict: 79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian, while only 8% were interrupted by Palestinian attacks (the remaining 13% were interrupted by both sides on the same day). In addition, we found that this pattern -- in which Israel is more likely than Palestine to kill first after a conflict pause -- becomes more pronounced for longer conflict pauses. Indeed, of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days.
Nancy Kanwisher: Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?

Thought this was very interesting reading, and casts some doubt on the pure "defense" motive. Perhaps Israel is pissed off that Hamas has sought to re-negotiate the treaty for access to the Gaza offshore gas field that Israel signed with British Gas in 2005, cutting Israel out.
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:43 PM   #333
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This is stupid. It's a war. I get the impression that Israel needs to even up the deaths to make liberals feel good. In war the best thing to do is win. We defeated the NAZIS that way and looking at the Hamas Charter we know who really resembles the NAZIS after all. It's no surprise that the fascists today will call their enemy fascists so the simple minded will try to avoid being called a NAZIS out of political correctness. Maybe if Hamas didn't support Jihad the world would be a better place? Only moderate Muslims in the believe Jihad is an inner struggle. Fundamentalists believe Jihad is an external struggle. Hence the war on terror that we are dealing with.

Anyone who quotes from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is already going into Mein Kampf territory.

Look at the Palestinian national anthem:

My country, my land, land of my ancestors
My country, my country, my country
My people, people of perpetuity
With my determination, my fire and the volcano of my revenge
With the longing in my blood for my land and my home
I have climbed the mountains and fought the wars
I have conquered the impossible, and crossed the frontiers
My country, my country, my country
My people, people of perpetuity
With the resolve of the winds and the fire of the guns
And the determination of my nation in the land of struggle
Palestine is my home, Palestine is my fire, Palestine is my revenge and the land of endurance
My country, my country, my country
My people, people of perpetuity
By the oath under the shade of the flag
By my land and nation, and the fire of pain
I will live as a fida'i*, I will remain a fida'i, I will end as a fida'i - until my country returns
My country, people of perpetuity.

*fida'i = one who risks his life voluntarily; one who sacrifices himself; hence the word fedayeen.

I don't believe an external Jihad and peace can co-exist. It's like oil and water.
Not at all, I don't want anyone to die at all. What I want is for Israel to end its operation or at the very least live up to its obligations under international law in regards to the protection of civilian life which is clearly not doing. If it feels it absolutely necessary to continue with it's course of action then fine, but it is plainly not taking steps to avoid civilian casualties, there's too many stories coming from neutral sources to think that they are, and some of its actions are simply war crimes, especially it's decision to deny Civilians access to the International Red Cross (which is the very definition of a war crime)

As it is I don't think the Palestinians present that much of a threat to Israel that they couldn't slowly and methodically work their way through Gaza using troops. The rocket attacks as terrifying as they may be are ineffective, and Israel would have plenty of time to search Gaza for Hamas terrorists and weapons, but instead they seem to have went for mass bombardment and shelling which is just punishing the civilian population for absolutely no other reason but to put them in their place. I think it's counter-productive for Israel because sooner or later they are going to have to come to an agreement with the Palestinians, and it's also seriously damaged Israel's standing in Europe and the rest of the World (excluding the US).
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:52 PM   #334
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Setting aside for a moment the emotional and religious anchors of the US-Israel alliance, for the US, Israel operates as a military and intelligence base in the Middle East. Hence the massive foreign aid and unconditional political support...at the expense of the Palestinians.

Now that permanent military bases exist in Iraq and there is a groundswell of political will for peace coming from the masses, perhaps as the Stephen Zunes article suggested, the US is now in a position to apply "tough love".
Your points are well taken. America obviously is not the ideal mediator. And I agree that America's position in Iraq gives us another card to play in the Middle East.

But let's say America does reduce or end military aid to Israel. I don't think that makes Hamas more likely to negotiate. I think it means more Hamas rockets, more tacit support from Iran, and still more disproportionate responses from Israel.
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:57 PM   #335
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Here is some nice objectivity from American legislators at a rally in Washington today:

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U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) all also strongly backed the Jewish state's actions at the hourlong rally.

"To misquote Shakespeare, something is rotten in Gaza and now it's time to take out the trash," Kirk said.
If that statement was made about the Jews in Israel, imagine the outrage.
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:05 PM   #336
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The criticism is one sided, on both sides, but if we are to treat Hamas as a representative body in Gaza how can there ever be peace
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Hamas has dismissed the UN security council call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, insisting that whoever tries to enforce it on the ground will be forced to deal with the Islamist movement – underlining its determination to be recognised as a key player in the conflict.

Musa Abu Marzouk, the Hamas deputy political leader, today accused the US – which abstained from voting on the resolution – of wanting to give Israel more time to achieve its military goals in Gaza. "This resolution was discussed in the hallways of the United Nations," he told Hezbollah's al-Manar TV. "The movement [Hamas] was not consulted. Our vision and the interests of our people were not taken into consideration."

Hamas fears a settlement being imposed on it and, like Israel, wants to be able to show it has improved its position as a result of the fighting.

"They [the US] want… to give the enemy more time," Abu Marzouk said. "But I assure you that they will not achieve any of their goals and they will withdraw in disappointment and they will be defeated."

Syria, meanwhile, is said to be urging Hamas not to accept Egyptian-French proposals for an urgent ceasefire, saying it should hold out for a deal that enhances its position via-a-vis Israel and its Palestinian rivals.

In any case, truce talks appear to be in trouble today, with Egypt reportedly objecting to plans to deploy international forces on its side of the border with the Gaza Strip to stop weapons smuggling – a key Israeli demand.

Diplomats say they believe the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has been privately advising Hamas to reject the truce terms suggested by Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president.

The initiative calls for a ceasefire within 48-72 hours and would open border crossings to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza Strip. During the truce, Egypt would hold separate talks with Israel and Hamas to reach a long-term agreement and resume talks between Hamas and Fatah over a Palestinian unity government.

Hamas, based in the Syrian capital, Damascus, has given conflicting signals. At first it welcomed the proposals but insisted it needed clarifications, then it rejected them as "invalid". Its principal demand, that the blockade be lifted and border crossings into Israel and Egypt be permanently reopened, does not appear to have been met.

Hamas, apparently backed by Syria, opposes Egypt's condition that it will only open the Rafah crossing on the basis of a 2005 agreement, which requires the presence of Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, European Union observers and Israeli cameras. Hamas is at loggerheads with the western-backed PA, which has been negotiating with Israel.

Sarkozy saw Assad in Damascus earlier this week to request his help in pressuring Hamas. Assad did not say he was unable to influence it, as he had in the past, according to a senior European diplomat. But Syria's influential vice-president, the veteran Farouq al-Shar'a, expressed strong reservations.

Assad has denounced Israel's Gaza offensive as a war crime and Damascus has seen huge popular demonstrations in support of the Palestinians. In a largely symbolic move, Syria also announced it was suspending Turkish-mediated peace negotiations with Israel. The talks had in fact stopped last year after four inconclusive rounds.

Senior officials from Iran, Syria's ally, have also been to Damascus for talks with Assad, as well as with Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas political chief, and the smaller Islamic Jihad faction.

The Gaza crisis has worsened long-standing tensions between Cairo and Damascus. Syrian officials say they believe Egypt was "set up" by Israel in that it appeared to have colluded in the 27 December attack. Egyptians counter that the Syrians are exploiting Hamas and Palestinian suffering for their own purposes.

"The difference between Hamas and Hama is just one letter," said one Egyptian official, alluding to the infamous massacre of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood at Hama in 1982.
Hamas rejects UN call for Gaza ceasefire with Israel | World news | guardian.co.uk

Dead babies are in their strategic interest; so is bringing in Muslim Brotherhood style rule over all of Palestine (which is the opposite to Greater Israel).
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:08 PM   #337
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This is from Shiraz Maher, former Hizb ut Tahrir member, obviously a victim of brainwashing
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As increasing numbers of commentators, politicians, activists and journalists speculate on the way forward, simple and indisputable facts are often surrendered to the worst kinds of moral relativism. The last few weeks alone have been testament to this. Just consider how Israel has been likened to Nazism, and the Gazans to refugees living in the Warsaw ghetto.

This should not however invert what is indisputable – that Israel is responding to a barrage of Hamas rockets which threaten its citizens who live in the south. Indeed, around 10 per cent of the Israeli population now lives within striking distance of katyusha rockets.

All this follows the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli settlements in Gaza in 2005, after which Hamas swept to power and turned "the Strip" into its own paramilitary playground, using it as a springboard to launch a campaign of sustained and indiscriminate attacks into southern Israel.

I am a Muslim and spent a large part of my childhood in Saudi Arabia – something which, in the eyes of many Muslims, means I should automatically defend the "Palestinian struggle". This is absurd and such support invariably means overlooking the vicious crimes being perpetrated by Hamas – against the Jews and, increasingly, its own population too.

Since the start of the conflict Hamas has carried out extra-judicial killings of – or, put bluntly, murdered – more than 30 of its citizens who it suspects of "colluding" with Israel.

And how has it responded to the death of Palestinian children? In a televised broadcast the Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, declared that Israel has "legitimised the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine. They have legitimised the killing of their people all over the world by killing our people."

British Islamists have proved themselves only too willing to oblige. Reports this week suggest that some participants on Islamist chat forums have been drawing up "hit lists" of prominent British Jews.

One contributor writing on the discussion board of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) said, "lets hope that an unfortunate event happens and they end up being killed someway [sic]". The group later removed those comments, but such views are indicative of the hatred that is out there.

Hamas will now pay a heavy price for its bloodlust and innocent civilians will tragically die as a result. Of course, it is in their name that those who have staged loud and noisy demonstrations in recent weeks claim to be acting. But what message are they sending exactly?

Demonstrators outside the Israeli embassy in London have fought with police and tried to storm the building on at least three separate occasions. Meanwhile banners have been waved in Trafalgar Square which boast, "We are Hamas".

Such vociferous support from the streets of London will have come as great relief to Hamas leaders at a time when even Arab governments such as Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have blamed them for this latest outbreak of violence.

These self-righteous "friends of Palestine" obsess about Israel and the Jews, but turn a Nelsonian blind eye to everything Hamas does.

They undermine those who want to see an enduring peace in the region and, worse still, they bolster and galvanise Hamas by creating the moral imperatives for its terrorism.

Muslim leaders in Britain have so far – but cannot any longer – allow this to continue unabated. Those who claim to support and empathise with the Palestinians must recognise that it is the terrorists of Hamas who have so disastrously betrayed their own people.

At its core, this is the straightforward decision that British Muslims will have to make: between Hamas, a terrorist group committed to destroying a sovereign state and its people – and Israel, the region's only democracy which is responding to that threat.
It really is that simple.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/p...ot-Israel.html
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:08 PM   #338
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The criticism is one sided, on both sides, but if we are to treat Hamas as a representative body in Gaza how can there ever be peace
Maybe then Israel should have waited for the elections since all signs pointed that Fatah would take over (as their approval was roughly 60% while Hamas had fallen to below 20%).

This is the point I was making earlier.
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:12 PM   #339
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Just looking over the past three years I wonder what the recount would look like, would Fatah have the men to invade public office in Gaza.
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Old 01-09-2009, 07:12 PM   #340
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This is from Shiraz Maher, former Hizb ut Tahrir member, obviously a victim of brainwashingBritain's Muslims should condemn Hamas, not Israel - Telegraph
The guy is obviously just a self hater

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How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions
Avi Shlaim The Guardian, Wednesday 7 January 2009

The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza's prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.

Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion's share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

Israel's settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel's propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel's terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

The timing of the war was determined by political expediency. A general election is scheduled for 10 February and, in the lead-up to the election, all the main contenders are looking for an opportunity to prove their toughness. The army top brass had been champing at the bit to deliver a crushing blow to Hamas in order to remove the stain left on their reputation by the failure of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006. Israel's cynical leaders could also count on apathy and impotence of the pro-western Arab regimes and on blind support from President Bush in the twilight of his term in the White House. Bush readily obliged by putting all the blame for the crisis on Hamas, vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and issuing Israel with a free pass to mount a ground invasion of Gaza.

As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted - a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, "crying and shooting".

To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party in this conflict. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak - terror. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza until Egypt brokered a six-month ceasefire last June. The damage caused by these primitive rockets is minimal but the psychological impact is immense, prompting the public to demand protection from its government. Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel's entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.

The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It di d so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel's objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. After eight days of bombing, with a death toll of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis, the gung-ho cabinet ordered a land invasion of Gaza the consequences of which are incalculable.

No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.

• Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and of Lion of Jordan: King Hussein's Life in War and Peace.
Avi Shlaim: How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe | World news | The Guardian
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:17 PM   #341
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At any rate, at this point I'm speaking only of a ceasefire to put an end to the current crisis, which personally I can see no other morally acceptable way out of. I would expect there will be further ceasefires needed later, and I have no Plan B for what happens if, at some hypothetical future point, Hamas' continuing influence results in e.g. a blanket Palestinian refusal to permanently recognize Israel in exchange for land. But I cannot condone wagering that civilian deaths at this rate are a worthwhile price for Maybe, Possibly, We Hope making that hypothetical impossible.
I don't substantively disagree with most of what you have written, and I don't object, in principle, to holding Israel accountable for its failures. What considerably troubles me is what the level of discourse on this subject has degenerated to, ultimately using language that, if it isn't intentionally anti-Semitic, certainly sounds like it. And sure, we'll get the obligatory...

Hamas is bad, mmkay?

...but the statement ultimately has no force behind it. Compare this to statements comparing Israel to Nazis running concentration camps, and U.N. efforts to condemn Israel specifically versus muted responses to Hamas, if anything at all, and U.N. resolutions that refuse to even mention them by name, instead preferring neutered resolutions that demand "all sides to cease hostilities." Frankly, though, without that kind of specificity, it really just means for Israel to stop hostilities, while Hamas can continue lobbing missiles at Israel at will and terrorizing its own citizens by forcing everyone to conform to their own brand of fundamentalist Islam, not to mention indoctrinating children to become terrorists themselves.

I can't help but wonder how much of this comes down to latent (or perhaps even blatant) anti-Semitism; 2,000 years of institutional anti-Semitism isn't going to evaporate in one event, no matter how atrocious it was. Or how much of it comes down to a cultural bias in favour of "the underdog," even if our "underdog," in this case, are terrorists. Or how much of it is a proxy Cold War between American cultural imperialism (embodied in how the U.S. and Israel are always mentioned in the same breath) and other competing hegemonies. Or how much of it boils down to well-intentioned, but misplaced ideals, where the Palestinians are a revision of the "Noble Savage." Either way, the global response to the Middle Eastern conflict has always seemed very one-sided and amiss to me, particularly considering how both Hamas and even the "moderate" Fatah treat their own citizens, which is grossly intolerant. It's no wonder that, for all the "noble savagery" and "Israeli Nazism" that Israel still gets very real asylum requests from Palestinians stating that they will be killed if they go home.

This is not to say that Israel is above criticism; certainly, with the calm currently experienced in the Fatah-controlled West Bank, the fact that illegal settlements continue to grow is something that needs to be stopped. On the other hand, if people expect all the settlements in the West Bank to go away, it is just as unrealistic as to expect all the Israelis to fall into the sea and die. Compromises will have to be made, and if the world's response to this conflict was properly measured with non-incendiary criticism of Israel and equal and direct criticism of the atrocities committed by certainly Hamas and, at times, Fatah, then I think we would make some progress. The muted response against Hamas' atrocities is unacceptable. To boil this conflict down to "good vs. evil" is unacceptable. This is what I mean by "pragmatism"; the usual ideologically-driven responses to this old conflict are catastrophic failures and will continue to be in the future too.
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Old 01-09-2009, 11:41 PM   #342
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I think trotting out the anti semitism idea is the easy fall back but for me at least, not at all true. I don't hate jews, or think they are less of a people, or anything like that. Its like when anything happens to a minority so many people trot out the 'racism' card rather then step back at look at events objectively. I think if it was anyone, ANY race other then an islamic race (even though they have civil fights all the time) there would still be this load of problems.

The fact is people were ejected from their homes for people who have a "claim" to the land. This made people angry, so they fought back, this in turn made the people who had displaced the others to fight back x1000 with weapons and money given to them from a total THIRD PARTY who has NO right to the land, or part of the fight, and so it continues to this day.

Both of them are not the "good" side, and the fight has been bastardized into a frothy insane people willing to sacrifice themselves against an idealistic arrogant righteous army that ignores everyone and does what it bloody wants.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:17 AM   #343
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Compare this to statements comparing Israel to Nazis running concentration camps,

....

I can't help but wonder how much of this comes down to latent (or perhaps even blatant) anti-Semitism;
Nice. Apparently tired, typical intimidation tricks die hard as well.

We could all trot out anti-Hamas, anti-Muslim terrorist commentary, but would that be pragmatic or balance for Palestinians or just more of what we've all already been fed steadily since we were born?

Here is some more UN institutionalized anti-semitism for you.

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As long ago as October 19, 2000, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission (now Council) condemned Israel for inflicting “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people, most of whom are Muslims. The reader has a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, the world has seen those heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and by Israel’s illegal paramilitary settlers. These Israeli “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for the perpetrators and their commanders, whether military or civilian, including and especially Israel’s political leaders.

But I want to focus for a moment on Israel’s “crimes against humanity” against the Palestinian people—as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What are “crimes against humanity”? This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals in Europe. In the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people:

Crimes against humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

The paradigmatic example of “crimes against humanity” is what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people. This is where the concept of “crimes against humanity” came from.
And this is what the U.N. Human Rights Commission determined that Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity. Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews. That is the significance of the formal determination by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that Israel has inflicted “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people. The Commission chose this well-known and long-standing legal term of art quite carefully and deliberately based upon the evidence it had compiled.

Furthermore, the Nuremberg “crimes against humanity” are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:32 AM   #344
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I can't help but wonder how much of this comes down to latent (or perhaps even blatant) anti-Semitism;
Surely some of it does.

But I think this type of commentary implies that you may think a lot more of it is based on anti-semitism, a line of thinking that I find to be kind of intellectually lazy and simplistic.

And it is no better an argument to imply that most of the world feels one way because of some latent anti-semitism that rears its head every time a new conflict in Israel/Palestinian territories arises than it is to imply that unlike most of the rest of the world, the Americans have latent Islamophobia that rears its head at the exact same time.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:37 AM   #345
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Your points are well taken. America obviously is not the ideal mediator. And I agree that America's position in Iraq gives us another card to play in the Middle East.

But let's say America does reduce or end military aid to Israel. I don't think that makes Hamas more likely to negotiate. I think it means more Hamas rockets, more tacit support from Iran, and still more disproportionate responses from Israel.
Frankly I think America is the only real mediator who can make a difference and bring both sides back to negotiating. I'm not suggesting they reduce military aid, I'm for Israel as a US security partner, there is much mutual benefit there. It's just time to stop turning a blind eye because of it.


An Unnecessary War

by Jimmy Carter
January 9, 2009
PlanetaryMovement.org

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions. About 3,000 residents had moved to other communities, and the streets, playgrounds and shopping centers were almost empty. Mayor Eli Moyal assembled a group of citizens in his office to meet us and complained that the government of Israel was not stopping the rockets, either through diplomacy or military action.

Knowing that we would soon be seeing Hamas leaders from Gaza and also in Damascus, we promised to assess prospects for a cease-fire. From Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was negotiating between the Israelis and Hamas, we learned that there was a fundamental difference between the two sides. Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.

We knew that the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza were being starved, as the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food had found that acute malnutrition in Gaza was on the same scale as in the poorest nations in the southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day.

Palestinian leaders from Gaza were noncommittal on all issues, claiming that rockets were the only way to respond to their imprisonment and to dramatize their humanitarian plight. The top Hamas leaders in Damascus, however, agreed to consider a cease-fire in Gaza only, provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Palestinian citizens.

After extended discussions with those from Gaza, these Hamas leaders also agreed to accept any peace agreement that might be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO, provided it was approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.

Since we were only observers, and not negotiators, we relayed this information to the Egyptians, and they pursued the cease-fire proposal. After about a month, the Egyptians and Hamas informed us that all military action by both sides and all rocket firing would stop on June 19, for a period of six months, and that humanitarian supplies would be restored to the normal level that had existed before Israel's withdrawal in 2005 (about 700 trucks daily).

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel's unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.
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