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January 06, 2009

Even The Nation

This is by a writer named Hillel Schenker in the Nation:

There are a number of original sins that led to this moment...the final sin was the fact that Hamas carried out a coup against the PA in Gaza and played a game of chicken with Israel with the Qassam missiles.

For actual reality, see Vanity Fair.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at January 6, 2009 12:03 AM

So it's gotten so bad that to access reality I need to read Vanity Fair instead of The Nation.

Fuck everything.

Posted by: Mike at January 6, 2009 04:12 AM

Any casual reader of Chomsky knows that the Nation has not been a reliable source on Israel since 1967. Personally, I find it totally unreadable.

Vanity Fair has consistently interesting articles about culture and politics. With less ideological stake in the issues, it often presents things closer to the truth than conventional "Left" publications.

On the other hand you have to skip Hitchens' pieces. And you don't get Cockburn.

Posted by: Seth at January 6, 2009 09:40 AM

Oh dear - now Nation writers are echoing White House talking points?

"This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas -- a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction. Eighteen months ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a coup, and since then has imported thousands of guns and rockets and mortars." -- Jan 2, 2009 radio address by President Bush

Posted by: Ian Garrick Mason at January 6, 2009 09:57 AM

Eventually, the guy who keeps poking the bully, after getting punched again and again, owns his broken nose.

What is the military purpose of the Qassam rockets? There is no military purpose. It is a psychological weapon, to provoke Israel and give people in Gaza a sense that they are fighting back. The only logical conclusion to the rocket attacks is that Israel will use the rocket attacks for their own (political) purpose, which they are doing now. And for Hamas as an organization, as long as the status quo continues in some manner Hamas reaps the benefits of hatred against Israel.

The reality is that Israel exists, it had two hundred nuclear weapons a couple of decades ago and has the best military in the region by far. There is no way that anyone will have a military strong enough to drive the Jews into the sea. But Hamas needs to nurture the unreality of defeating Israel as a reason for its existence. The PLO began fading when it backed away from its hostility against Israel.

The unreality that allows Hamas to exist is the state religion that brings about these eruptions.

Is Israel a bad actor on the world stage? Absolutely. Should Israel have even been created? I don't think so. But Israel exists. Just like the Native Americans won't see justice done for the theft of their lands the Palestinians won't see justice done in Israel. Not by shooting bottle rockets over the border.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at January 6, 2009 10:16 AM

Bob in Pacifica--

I mostly agree with your points, but the problem here is that people in the US keep lying about the details of what has happened in ideologically predictable ways. For instance, it's Hamas that broke the ceasefire in the US press, because by definition a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians can only be broken by Palestinians. Israel can kill people in Gaza and place 1.5 million people under siege and that's not a violation--that's Israel acting to protect their citizens. Palestinians fire their stupid and immoral rockets (I throw in that "stupid and immoral" because it's true and because otherwise you'll probably think I'm romanticizing Palestinian violence) in response and that's violating the ceasefire and only then can the good little liberals at the New Yorker or the NYT or even apparently the Nation criticize Israel's disproportionate response. Because Israel only responds, it never starts anything.

So anyway, I completely agree that Palestinian violence is (mostly) irrational and when aimed at civilians, immoral. But it's a little tiresome when even the supposedly liberal Nation starts reciting mainstream talking points--maybe they want to take over TNR's old slot of giving liberal/left support to mainstream lies, now that TNR itself is just a joke.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 6, 2009 12:52 PM

In my own rant I lost track of what the original post was about--in this case, one of the other mainstream talking points, which is that Hamas started the civil war. At a HuffPo blog comment section I recently mentioned the fact that the US planned the civil war between Fatah and Hamas, hoping that Fatah would win, and was promptly given the standard lecture about conspiracy theories and how nuts like me think the US is responsible for every bad thing in the world. That gets old too.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 6, 2009 12:55 PM


You could also link to your own post on the US role back in the summer of 2007, long before the Vanity Fair article and not just to be fair to your own vanity--it's important to know that some people knew what the US was up to, even if the April 2008 Vanity Fair article was both very good and also the first mention of it in the US mainstream press.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 6, 2009 12:58 PM

The rockets fly because SOMEWHERE deep down in the Hamas( I say Hamas as the LEGALLY ELECTED Reps of Gaza) heart of hearts its the PHRAZ THAT PAYZ and its U&I who are paying.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 6, 2009 12:59 PM

I don't mean to take over this thread, but the link didn't work. I'll just write out the address--

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 6, 2009 01:02 PM

Well, I read the VF piece and the money quote seems to be "Now that it controls Gaza, Hamas has given free rein to militants intent on firing rockets into neighboring Israeli towns."

It would have been an interesting tactic if, having routed the admittedly corrupt and brutal Fatah regime in Gaza, Hamas had directed its efforts toward improving the livelihood of the people. But it's more fun to play with rockets and AK-47s than to work with shovels and wheelbarrows.

Posted by: Ralph Hitchens at January 6, 2009 01:42 PM

SOMEBODY had to use a shovel and wheelbarrow to dig those smuggleing tunnels. Then ask YOURSELF, "Unless Gaza has a terrible drug habit, why need smuggleing tunnels?"

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 6, 2009 01:58 PM

""Now that it controls Gaza, Hamas has given free rein to militants intent on firing rockets into neighboring Israeli towns.""

Funny, then, that they enforced a ceasefire for six months and that Israel still continued the blockade (which plays a teensy role in the misery in Gaza, not to mention violating the ceasefire in a big way on November 4 (which has gone down the memory hole).

It's also funny that some boilerplate rhetoric in an otherwise informative article about how the US fomented a Palestinian civil war is what you think was the "money quote".

To forestall (without much hope of success) one possible response, I despise Hamas and think that firing rockets into Israel is a war crime. I think they are the same kind of bloody-minded fanatics that one finds in, say, the Israeli government, but even bloody-minded fanatics can be made to see the virtues of a truce if there is something to be gained by it.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 6, 2009 02:20 PM

Voluntarily reading the HuffPo and engaging with the regulars, Donald? Whatever you've done, it can't be that bad to warrant such masochistic behavior. You've got to learn to forgive yourself and move on.

Posted by: Upside Down Flag at January 6, 2009 04:55 PM

I think some commenters are being unfair to The Nation here. First of all, if you read the whole article, you'll find that Schenker condemns the aggression against Gaza, criticizes the international community for not engaging Hamas after its elections, and recognizated the failure to lift the blockade against Gaza during the Hamas-Israel ceasefire. Second, The Nation has printed other articles on the current crisis that are much more harshly critical of Israel than Schenker. There's nothing wrong with collecting a variety of opinions.

Posted by: Peter H at January 6, 2009 05:37 PM

But that's where you're wrong, Peter H.
A "variety of opinions" is unacceptable on Coulter's Right or Cockburn's Left.
You're with us, or you're against truth, beauty and humanity.

Posted by: donescobar at January 6, 2009 08:36 PM

Hmm, I would say the money quote from that article is this one:

The next day, in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, Bush acknowledged that there was a rather large obstacle standing in the way of this goal: Hamas’s complete control of Gaza, home to some 1.5 million Palestinians, where it seized power in a bloody coup d’état in June 2007.

Posted by: saurabh at January 6, 2009 10:57 PM

On the Nation itself, maybe we are being a little unfair. I like some of their articles and dislike others. Variety of viewpoints isn't bad, but the point of the post was that Schenker's statement gave the reader a misleading impression of how Gaza came under Hamas's power. Hamas didn't have an incentive to have a civil war with Fatah--they'd won the election. From what I've read, they'd have been happier with a unity government and being taken seriously as the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people by the outside world, and that's precisely what the US didn't want.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 6, 2009 11:30 PM

George has a history about folks electing the wrong guys.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 7, 2009 05:16 AM

"George has a history about folks electing the wrong guys." Not just George. Ever heard of Mohammed Mossadeq? Jacobo Arbenz? Salvador Allende? Jean-Bertrand Aristide? There are probably a good many others, but those are examples that come readily to mind for me. Also, the 1984 Nicaraguan elections have largely been written out of US history, because the Sandinistas won them fairly; so they never happened.

Posted by: Duncan at January 7, 2009 10:08 PM

Contact them. The Nation is more likely to issue a correction than, say, the New York Times. It is just too liberal to do so. Facts have a liberal bias. Therefore by having a liberal bias, everything in the NYT must be factual. Especially when it supports a winger's argument to point out that EVEN the New York Times agrees.

Posted by: me at January 9, 2009 08:36 AM