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March 18, 2009

Those Are The Rules

Bradley Burston of Haaretz explains why Avigdor Lieberman is going to be Israel's Foreign Minister:

[N]o one, even some of the most ardent advocates of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, was about to agree to leave Ben-Gurion airport, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem within range of the rockets. Suddenly there was a consensus again. And the peace process, the peace movement, and with it Labor and Meretz, were kicked to the curb.

Those are the rules, you see. It doesn't matter whether Israel actually is attacked. The peace camp in Israel will collapse merely if Israel can be attacked. Similarly, Iran may not possess nuclear weapons, nor even the ability to make them.

In fairness to Israel, of course, those are also the rules for the United States. Even if Iraq HAD possessed unconventional weapons, indeed even if it had possessed the ICBMs to use them against the US, that wouldn't have justified the US invasion. Yet it certainly would have caused the peace camp here to shrink to almost nothing.

It's no wonder the US and Israel get along so well. We're both completely insane.

AND: Here's more of Burston's attempt to explain Israel to the uncomprehending world:

10,000 rockets, fired at civilian areas, unprotected by anything — I am truly ashamed to acknowledge — other than miracles.

It is these miracles, these barely averted catastrophes, literally thousands of them, which have become the central fact of Israeli life. That, and an anger which no one outside Israel can know or fully comprehend, an aching, soul-deep frustration, an always humming fear, a sickness and fever over the nearness of true disaster, as well as a sense of abandonment by those abroad who cannot be expected to know what these people, my friends, are going through or why.

I dunno...I bet there might be some people who live pretty close by Israel who could grok that feeling.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at March 18, 2009 11:20 PM

You've got to give Burston credit for this insight, though:

A vast war machine pretending to be a tiny country, a mobilized citizenry sterilized of morality, drained of compassion, bereft of conscience, bestial in war, imperial in ambition, Goliathized in its marriage of high tech and high explosive; incorrigibly bigoted bullying simpletons, little more than racists who vote for racists, fascists who fall for fascists, an embarrassment to the West, an embarrassment to the Jews...

The "fascists who fall for fascists" bit is a little over the top and I don't think many people see Israelis as simpletons, but overall it's pretty hard to argue with. And he even italicized it for emphasis!

Posted by: John Caruso at March 19, 2009 12:18 AM

Shorter Israel: 'Meeeee! It's all about meeeeeeeeeeee!'

Posted by: NomadUK at March 19, 2009 08:51 AM

I was listening to BBC reporting today (via NPR) on the IDF "moral failure" in Gaza. The reporter explained that the "failure" was the result of terrible anxiety caused by the kidnapping of the soldier named Shalit back in 2006. It was very touching.

Posted by: abb1 at March 19, 2009 01:34 PM

Nah, John, I think you give Burston too much credit--he doesn't realize that attitudes like his own are part of why so many in the outside world think Israel is nuts.

The whole article is full of gems, but I liked this part--

"When Saddam Hussein fired 39 ballistic missiles into Tel Aviv, Haifa and Dimona, he radically changed the way Israelis viewed the importance of holding on to the territories. Overnight the threat was coming from 1500 kilometers away, so what good was it to hang onto and permanently settle the hills of Samaria in the West Bank, or the sand dunes of northern Gaza?
It was this, as much as any other factor, that paved the way for the opening of what we've come to know as the peace process, beginning at the Madrid conference in 1991. "

Except that settlements expanded during the 90's. There's something a teensy bit disingenuous here--what kind of nitwit would think settlements on occupied territory would bring security? I can understand holding onto the territory by force, but building homes there? But it makes sense if you want to pretend that everything Israel does is out of fear of terrorism by those crazed Arabs. They are so scared of the Arabs they actually steal their land and build houses on it.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at March 19, 2009 03:40 PM

3 billion per year- U get moral failure. 5 billion a year U R guaranteed the real thing, folks and its ONLY 2 billion per year more.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 19, 2009 03:44 PM

Nah, John, I think you give Burston too much credit...

Maybe the subtle irony in my comment was too subtle.

Posted by: John Caruso at March 19, 2009 04:08 PM

"When Saddam Hussein fired 39 ballistic missiles into Tel Aviv, Haifa and Dimona, he ..."
set in motion the wheels of his own execution?

began the process of proxy invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US?

provided radical historians with a content-rich justification for assertions of Israeli intrigue in the launching of US invasion and occupation of Iraq?

Given the relatively diminutive rocketry of the Palestinian resistance and the massive carnage - Gaza - visited upon them in Israeli response - Gaza - to said diminutive rocketry...

Posted by: roy belmont at March 19, 2009 04:36 PM

An interplanetary capable society invades goathearders. It bids the questions "Why are WE forced to leave Iraq?" And "Why are there ANY Palestinians left alive?" (and ya thought JUSTICE was drowned long ago)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 19, 2009 04:59 PM

No, John, the even more subtle irony in my comment about your subtly ironic comment was too subtle.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at March 19, 2009 09:14 PM

OK, so you've both mastered being subtly ironic, but can you manage being ironically subtle?

...yeah, see - not so easy.

Posted by: RobWeaver at March 19, 2009 10:03 PM
but can you manage being ironically subtle?


Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at March 19, 2009 10:11 PM

Boy, is my face red.

Posted by: John Caruso at March 19, 2009 11:08 PM